An achievable timeline for a safe and fair 2020 club rugby season

At Rugby News, we’re just as desperate to return to the footy field as the rest of you. 

Obviously, the safety of the rugby community is the number one priority right now but as the situation slowly starts to improve in Australia, it seems like a good time to think about when we might all be able to safely return to the playing field. 

Unlike our Mungo mates, rugby will more than likely show patience in the weeks and months ahead but that doesn’t mean we can’t and won’t play a rugby season at the end of all of this. 

It’s important to remember that our premier rugby clubs are also businesses and like their professional counterparts, also spend the lion’s share of the annual budgets before the opening kick off in round one. 

Most clubs then recoup that expenditure during the playing season and then prepare for the following year. 

So at this stage the clubs, like a lot of small businesses are out of pocket and are looking for ways to improve their financial situation in the back end of 2020. 

Most of their stakeholders – the player, officials and supporters are also desperate to squeeze in some rugby this year, even if they have to wear sunscreen to do so.

Compromise might have to be the key word.

It’s probably safe to assume that all teams need to play each other once in a fair competition. In Sydney that means 10 rounds, in Brisbane eight and Canberra six, followed by three weeks of finals. 

The John Dent I Cup in Canberra could probably squeeze two rounds in if they really wanted to. 

At this rate, it seems social distancing protocols will be very slowly rolled back, but at the moment it doesn’t seem unrealistic to think that outdoor training in groups could be allowed by the start of July, in just over 10 weeks time. 

If teams spent a month training, all club competitions could potentially kick off on Saturday August 1 and after all teams played each other at least once, a three week finals series could finish in early to mid October, depending on the competition. 

Provided that public gatherings are allowed by later this year, clubs will also benefit from playing key matches in what used to be a traditional rugby window. 

Watching Warringah play Eastwood at Rat Park on a sunny spring afternoon in late September sounds pretty good right now, doesn’t it and Brothers v Jeeps causes similar tingles. 

The crowds, if allowed, would be huge and the clubs would be the real winners, even if they had to split some of the revenue between them. 

If you push that back a month, with training beginning in August and matches in September, those same seasons could still be completed by mid November. 

If it’s a further month, you could still wrap up by early December. 

It might not be the rugby seasons we’re used to but nothing this year has been normal and it probably won’t be for some time. 

So drag yourself off the lounge and maybe even consider a run because rugby, just like Christmas, is coming.