Posted – 24/03/20
It would be naïve to suggest rugby is on anyone’s priorities list as the globe battles a devastating pandemic.
Nevertheless, a decision had to be made by Scottish Rugby about how to finish the domestic season following the suspension of all rugby in Scotland on the 13th March.
On Tuesday a decision was reached to null and void the league season, preventing any form of automatic promotion or relegation.
An SRU statement detailed this outcome had been delivered as part of a wide-ranging consultation period which involved every club in Scotland, although at least Northern Caledonia side has claimed they weren’t consulted.
The governing body provided five different options to the clubs and noted that around half of them had opted to call the season as null and void.
The second most popular option was to finish the season with the current positions of each club, while another was to award two points to each team for any outstanding fixtures.
Other options involved calculating an average of points over the season and counting earlier fixtures as double headers.
However, Orkney claim they weren’t consulted and despite the difficult circumstances, can be forgiven for feeling hard done by after they looked certain to be promoted to the National Leagues.
The Islanders were eight points clear with two games in hand at the top of Caledonia One when the season was suspended last month.
In Caley Two, Aberdeenshire also saw their promotion hopes being quelled having already gained a place in Caley One next season.
Shire’s Head Coach, Barny Henderson believes a different outcome would have perhaps been preferable.
He said: “The option of awarding two league points for each remaining game would have been fairer.”
“For us its disappointing because we’ve played all our games and gained every point we need to get promoted.”
“I feel very bad for Orkney and Marr who were likely to win their first Premiership title this season.”
“The club has worked hard to return to Caley One which is where I believe Aberdeenshire belong, but in the wider sense this outcome won’t be that important in a few years and we now have an added incentive to be successful again next season.”
Henderson isn’t overly critical of the SRU but does register some frustration at past scheduling decisions and the unseen impact which they are having now.
He adds: “In hindsight its frustrating that the clubs agreed to play through the international games this season, but the SRU didn’t want them to.”
There is a recognition that those weekends lost to international fixtures could have made significant inroads into any matches which hadn’t been fulfilled across the leagues when the Covid-19 outbreak stopped play.
Aberdeen Wanderers aren’t likely to have felt as aggrieved by the null and void outcome as they sat fourth in Caley One when the season ended, unable to realistically challenge for silverware.
Director of Rugby, Russell Arthur said: “It’s an unprecedented situation we are in at the moment and I’m comfortable with the way the SRU went about the decision in asking the clubs what they thought should happen.”
“We can’t expose anyone involved with the club to any unnecessary risks but is it disappointing to lose that momentum that Wanderers have built across all facets of the club this season.”
Meanwhile, RAF Lossiemouth and Aberdeen University Medics had already wrapped up the Caley Three and Four titles respectively before Tuesday’s announcement.
However, the decision does favour Gordonians in National Two who were in the midst of a difficult battle for survival near the bottom end of the table.
The reality is that a difficult decision has been made at a time when rugby isn’t at the forefront of discussion.
There is a shared recognition of the unprecedented situation we as a society now face and it has been heartening to see ongoing community work which countless teams have have initiated during this global crisis.