The 2020/21 Energia All-Ireland League for both men and women’s rugby teams, as well as the Vodafone Women’s Interprovincial series, have officially been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The decision was announced on Thursday 28 January, following a meeting of the Union Committee.

This means that the UCD men’s team will put all of their focus for the rest of the year on the Energia Community Series, which the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) hopes will still be able to be completed. UCD have already played two matches in the series in September and November last year, losing to Old Wesley before defeating Old Belvedere.

The UCD women’s team will have to wait to find out when they can return to the field, and in what competition.

The IRFU and the four provinces will work with clubs to look at the completion of the Community Series and to review alternative forms of rugby, such as Lucozade Sport Touch and Volkswagen Tag, which may provide players with much sought after rugby later in the year.

Rugby UCD Men's vs Old Wesley
UCD Men’s rugby vs Old Wesley. Photo: UCD Rugby/Deryck Vincent

In a statement released by the IRFU on Thursday, Greg Barrett, Chair of the IRFU Rugby Committee, said, “As Covid-19 continues to impact our lives we had to make the difficult decision to cancel the 2020/21 All Ireland Leagues and the women’s interprovincial championship.

“A huge amount of work is on-going, and we continue to look at avenues that may provide players and clubs with the rugby that they love.

“In the meantime, we will continue to innovate and develop education opportunities that can help players developing skills beyond the traditional forms of training for the game. With over 10,000 players signed up to our ‘Level Up’ workshops, we are helping players develop understanding and skills that will stand to them for many seasons to come.

“Our commitment to players and our clubs remains clear – we will continue to adopt a flexible approach to season planning and will proceed with rugby when cleared to do so by government guidelines.”

Stephen Kisbey-Green – Co-Editor