The Surrey Beavers and the Trinity Western Spartans scrum down in a game at Sullivan Heights Park Nov 22, 2019. B.C. Rugby recently released its return to play plan, but it looks like games may not be played before September 2021. (Photo: Malin Jordan)

The Surrey Beavers and the Trinity Western Spartans scrum down in a game at Sullivan Heights Park Nov 22, 2019. B.C. Rugby recently released its return to play plan, but it looks like games may not be played before September 2021. (Photo: Malin Jordan)

Rugby practices to return to Lower Mainland fields this fall

B.C. Rugby announced its return to play plan July 7

Rugby is coming back.

B.C. Rugby announced it’s Return to Rugby plan July 7. But one local rugger says despite the road map, it’s not going to be an easy journey for rugby in British Columbia.

“It’s nice to see a plan,” said Paul Kelly, the captain for the Surrey Beavers. “But it won’t look like the sport we know until probably the fall of 2021.”

That interim “look” is one of small practices leading up to touch rugby and possibly a flag-style type of rugby game. B.C. Rugby’s return plan (see graphic below) consists of five phases with players currently slotted into phase two—a maximum of 50 people, a maximum of 60 minutes, all while maintaining a two-metre gap between players.

“Rugby is coming back but it’s up to all of us to make sure it’s brought back in a safe and responsible manner,” Annabel Kehoe, B.C. Rugby CEO, said in a press release. “While we won’t be returning to full-contact rugby for the foreseeable future, we’re excited to support clubs delivering modified training before progressing to non-contact rugby.”

With regular rugby only returning in phase five—when a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19 is available—Kelly said it’s going to be hard for clubs to survive.

SEE ALSO: Rugby lights up the night at Surrey’s Sullivan Heights Park for the first time

“It’s good to see some training sessions will be allowed in the fall, but it’s gonna be a challenge to keep players interested.”

Kelly said his club, like many others in the province, are facing the same two challenges: lost revenue and keeping up that player interest. He said one feeds the other.

“It’s a little discouraging overall,” he explained. “We’ve had our doors closed for the last three months and we’ve missed out on a lot of revenue.”

Revenue keeps the clubs afloat, but that only comes with a full rugby season (which, in turn, creates that much-needed player interest, which generates that much-needed revenue).

He said rugby players’ interest will be hard to maintain without games. He added people don’t play rugby to run around in light, non-contact training sessions for weeks or months on end. They play to smash each other on the pitch.

“There is zero interest right now. Until we see light at the end of the tunnel, I don’t see many players hanging around hoping that something will change.”

SEE ALSO: OPINION: Should BC Rugby change the structure of their season?

B.C. Rugby’s restart plan offers no hope either. In phase four—scheduled to start in January of 2021—it notes that only “small-sided” training games can be played at clubs and that only “B.C. Rugby administered inter-club games” will be allowed.

Kelly said the outlook’s even worse for B.C. rugby clubs if you factor in the loss of the high school rugby season—a pipeline for rugby clubs to gain new players.

“We get a lot of high school players,” Kelly explained. “Unless they go away for university, they usually come out and play for us. But now those players are already out of the regular loop of playing rugby. Are they going to pick it up in the fall of 2021? For some, that could be nearly two and half years since they played their last rugby game.”

SEE ALSO: Cloverdale rugby team returns home from U.K. after tour was cut short by COVID-19 crisis

Kelly noted some older players may retire rather than wait until the fall of 2021 to resume playing.

“Your body takes a beating in this game. Some older players might say, ‘I haven’t played for 18 months.’ It’s gonna be interesting, but I think a lot of clubs will suffer.”

Kelly explained the Beavers’ Cloverdale clubhouse, the Beaverlodge, has been sitting idle so he’s been trying to organize a few social-distanced events in an effort to gain some revenue and open a connective conduit between players and their club. “We’re trying to do smaller functions at the club to keep revenue coming in.”

Kelly added, “This is the biggest challenge we’ve faced since our clubs’ inception [in 1970]. Our clubhouse burned down about 10 years ago and we rebuilt. It’s going to be challenging, but we’ll rebuild from this too.”

More information about B.C. Rugby’s return to play program can be found on their website at bcrugby.com.



editor@cloverdalereporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CloverdalerugbyRugby CanadaSurrey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

B.C. Rugby’s “roadmap” toward a return to play was released July 7. (Image via B.C. Rugby)

B.C. Rugby’s “roadmap” toward a return to play was released July 7. (Image via B.C. Rugby)

Just Posted

Longtime basketball coach Allison McNeill is worried that the COVID-19 pandemic will adversely affect high-school athletes with university athletic aspirations. (Garrett James/Langley Events Centre photo)
COVID-19: Young athletes scrambling for scholarships, opportunities amid pandemic

‘They lost their whole Grade 12 year’ says Semiahmoo basketball coach Allison McNeill

When his owner had knee surgery, Kevin, 2, was able to continue to go for walks thanks to volunteers from Elder Dog Canada. (Contributed photo)
White Rock woman among dozens in Lower Mainland to benefit from Elder Dog program

Dog-care organization has a fleet of volunteer walkers ready, but requires more clients to serve

Travis Selje with Rex, the family dog he got to enjoy for the final six months of his life. (Submitted photo)
Defence says evidence ‘compelling, overwhelming’ to acquit Surrey woman in deadly crash

Epileptic seizure caused fatal crash that killed Travis Selje, lawyer argues in final submissions

(Delta Police Department photo)
Delta Police searching for driver in hit-and-run

Police looking for witnesses to the incident that happened about 2 p.m. Feb. 23 on Ladner Trunk Road

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

A woman boards a transit bus through rear doors, in Vancouver, on Friday, March 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
TransLink slow to reveal crucial details about ransomware attack, says union

Union says company took months to admit what info was stolen, including SIN and bank account details

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a BC Ferries vessel. (File photo)
B.C. ferry passengers arrested and fined for disturbance, refusing to wear masks

Police said woman threatened their pensions in Feb. 21 incident aboard Nanaimo-bound boat

Most Read