RFU Unclear over re-start of amateur game

The RFU is yet to outline the outcome of the 2019/20 amateur rugby season following this years coronavirus pandemic.

Level five downwards is generally considered to be the beginning of the amateur ranks in England, the complicated process of promotion each year makes the issue more complicated.

To gain promotion from Midlands One West, tier six in England, the runners-up must play the runners-up from Midlands One East, whilst both division winners are promoted automatically to Midlands Premier.

Lichfield Rugby Club sit third in Midlands One West with a game in hand on first and second, and are now unsure on their promotion fate. First team winger Tom Day said:

“I found out through social media, then I found out from an admin group chat that Hemo (Dan Hemingway) has, saying that the seasons cancelled and we’ve not received any information and still haven’t about promotions or relegations.

“We’ve heard nothing yet. The lockdowns slowed a lot of stuff down. I have no doubt they’re talking about it behind the scenes and you can see from football they’ve just null and voided everything.

“I think it was a gutting feeling.

“We were winning games again and it was nice to get that feeling, we were really relishing winning until it became a habit again. On the face of it after time to reflect, if we do stay in this league we can go and do it again.

“Every few weeks we’ve been bringing people through easily which might be more tough in that league above, where the bottom half is really competitive and the bottom half is almost out of the realms of a lot of amateur clubs where there’s money involved.

“I imagine we’re banking on the fact we can go back to pre-season early May as normal and get back in the gym.

“We’ve still got a sevens set up that hasn’t been cancelled just yet. Us and a couple of others are looking at running a sevens team and we’ve built that.

“Hopefully lockdown ends and rugby comes back by then, if not we’re hoping for pre-season May/June time as normal and looking at next year.”

Lichfield as an amateur club are very proud of their first-team philosophy, that the majority of players are home-grown, and they won’t pay their first-team.

They also rely mostly on sponsorship and the clubhouse bar for income, both of which have been non-existent thanks to the global pandemic, which coincides with the refurbishment of their Boley Lounge bar.

Chairman Paul Massey said:

“By both cutting costs and securing a number of grants and loans we have been able to keep the club solvent – and with enough cash to see us through the summer period.

“As we still don’t know if or how, any new rugby season will start it’s virtually impossible to predict what will happen with the financial operations of the club when it does.

“We obviously expect that it will be difficult to raise the same amount of revenue – from either sponsors or social activities – that we had pre-coronavirus and we will certainly need to get creative to look for other ways to generate incomes.

“We’ll try to keep you well posted on these as we move through the next weeks and months.”

Lichfield’s Boley Lounge serves as a private function room that captures the spirit of the club, and the eagerly-anticipated refurbishment has been put on hold during the nationwide lockdown.

“Despite the formal lock-down and social distancing rules we have managed to make very slow, but steady progress with the refurbishment, and the good news is that it’s now almost complete.

“I’d like to extend many thanks to those that have helped (both physically & financially) and in particular to Dan Bourne who has overseen this work.

“It looks terrific and certainly whenever we are in any position to re-open the clubhouse the new lounge will be available – we just not sure yet when this will be.”

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