Blow for Cork sides as Irish Rugby calls off the club season due to Coronavirus 

Blow for Cork sides as Irish Rugby calls off the club season due to Coronavirus 
Niall Kenneally, Cork Con, takes on Josh Wycherley and Alan Kennedy, Young Munster, in the AIL Division 1A clash at Temple Hill. Picture: Jim Coughlan

THE IRISH club rugby season is officially over.

The 2019/20 domestic season has been ended immediately due to ongoing concerns over Coronavirus as it's now almost certain government action will run beyond the proposed date of March 29. 

Instead of attempting to get the campaign back up and running closer to the summer, Irish Rugby is now directing clubs to put plans in place for 2020/21.

It will be particularly disappointing for the likes of Cork Constitution and Highfield, who were both going well in their respective AIL divisions.

Lee Nicholas of Shannon tackles Eddie Earle of Highfield in the AIL at Thomond Park. Picture: Don Moloney
Lee Nicholas of Shannon tackles Eddie Earle of Highfield in the AIL at Thomond Park. Picture: Don Moloney

The directive applies to all incomplete national and provincial competitions and was ratified by the IRFU Rugby Committee on Thursday.

It follows on from the GAA's decision to cancel the National Féile for U14s and the U17 Celtic Challenge inter-county competitions for 2020.

On the rugby front, the Six Nations is already up in the air while the European club competitions are suspended and might not be resumed.

A statement explained: 

"Cups will be shared by finalists, where cup competitions have reached the final fixture. There will be no promotion or relegation in any of the five divisions of the Energia Men’s All-Ireland League.

"The planned expansion of the Energia Women’s All-Ireland League for the 2020/21 season remains in place.

"There will be no league or cup winners in any competition organised at a national level including the Energia All-Ireland Leagues, Energia Women’s All-Ireland Cup and the Energia Bateman Cup.

"The Fraser McMullen U20 Cup, the Junior Interprovincial Championships and the round-robin qualifiers for the Energia All-Ireland League will not take place."

Speaking about the announcement, IRFU Director of Rugby Development Colin McEntee said:

"The decision to end the domestic rugby season for 2019/2020 season has not been made lightly. All options were discussed and the IRFU is satisfied it has arrived at the only equitable solution.

"These are challenging times for us all and we know clubs will be impacted by this directive, but we will look back at this season as one where we put the physical welfare of our rugby community above all else.

"Clubs are now in a position to make plans for the 2020/21 season. We look forward to marking the 30th anniversary of the All-Ireland League."

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