What the Papers Say – Huw S Thomas reports
Llandovery RFC’s scheduled premiership game with Aberavon at the Talbot Athletic Ground, Port Talbot on Friday night was called off at the eleventh hour because of the Coronavirus threat writes Huw S Thomas
On Friday afternoon, some hours before kickoff, Wizards Chairman Andrew John informed Llandovery club President Handel Davies that one of the Aberavon players had been in contact with a family member feared to have contracted the virus.
“On that news the WRU instructed the home club to cancel the Premiership game in the interests of all those involved in rugby and the public at large.” said Davies
“We were obviously in entire agreement with the decision, the safety of all concerned being paramount.”
Aberavon posted web site information on the situation.
We very much regret having to postpone tonight’s game between Aberavon and Llandovery but due to a link to the COVID 19 virus, it was felt that we had no choice in order to both protect other individuals and to prevent it spreading further. The person concerned will now self isolate for the suggested period. Apologies for the short notice but the decision was taken after considering current guidelines.
Late on Friday the WRU called off the Wales v Scotland Six Nations game set for Saturday afternoon before releasing a circular to all its affiliated clubs, suspending all rugby until the end of March.
“The WRU, having considered expert medical advice has taken the precautionary measure of suspending all forms of rugby, including training and rugby-related courses, from 6pm on Saturday 14 March up to and including Monday 30 March 2020.
The WRU has taken this decision in the interests of players, supporters, volunteers, referees, stakeholders and Welsh communities in general.
The WRU will continue to assess this fast-moving situation and provide further updates in due course. “
Llandovery’s games against Pontypridd away on March 21 and against Llanelli at home on March 28 will not take place and there is a real danger that this suspension of activity could spill over to April and even beyond.
The Drovers are also involved in the new Welsh-Scottish league that was scheduled to take place April 23 – May 30 but that competition looks in serious jeopardy, given that the Scottish Government is unlikely to give it the green light.
“It is a serious blow to the finances of all Premiership clubs ” said Drovers Chairman Peter Rees.
“There will be no money coming into the club coffers for the near future with no gate or bar takings, a reduction in sponsorship and some functions cancelled.”
“The Indigo Premiership clubs are semi-professional with players wages a big part of their commitment.”
“A lot of clubs will find it very difficult to pay the players and could well be asking the WRU for financial help to get them through these difficult and unprecedented times.” added Rees.
The situation will reach crisis point for the clubs if the suspension is extended into April/May and possibly beyond.
Many club officials suspect that the season will be eventually terminated without any more fixtures played.
It could have quite huge consequences for a number of Premiership clubs. They are already on a tight budget and the loss of all income for the rest of the season could be catastrophic.
Premiership clubs will be sure to have talks with their players this week in the hope of coming to some agreement over earnings.
Some could well end up not paying their inactive players whilst others might be able to scratch together some temporary compensation deal.
Representation to the WRU for financial help to the semi-pro game is due this week and the parent body faces a huge challenge in its role to promote, foster, encourage, control and improve Rugby Football Union in Wales (WRU handbook p19).