On Thursday, the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) received clarity from government on the status of domestic rugby amid ongoing public health measures to curb the spread of COVID-19. Under the new levels of restrictions, the domestic league that UCD men’s rugby take part in is no longer given the elite exemption, meaning that season is currently suspended.

In a statement by the IRFU on Thursday, it the update on the season was announced. According to the statement, from Friday 16 October the Northern Ireland Executive suggest that no “organised contact sport involving household mixing other than at elite level” can take place. “Amateur club rugby is not classified as an elite sport under this regulation,” the IRFU statement said.

Following the government announcement on Wednesday 14 October, the Energia Community Series is no longer exempt from the restrictions on training and matches that form part of level three of the ‘Living with COVID’ plan.

“As a result the Energia Community Series is suspended in all four provinces with immediate effect until further notice,” the IRFU statement said. “All clubs in level three and level four areas are now restricted to ‘Non contact training only in pods of up to 15’.”

UCD’s men’s team was set to tackle Clontarf on Saturday after their bye week last weekend. They had previously beaten Old Belvedere the week before, after a disappointing loss to Old Wesley in the opening weekend of the series.

The UCD women’s team have not been able to get their season underway, as they have not fallen within the elite exemption at any point of the restrictions.

The IRFU statement re-affirmed Irish Rugby’s support for the public health guidelines.

“Irish Rugby supports all public health measures which keep our community safe and urges all its members to demonstrate safe and responsible behaviour,” the statement said.

“Clubs in all provinces are also reminded of the need to have an updated COVID-19 Health & Safety Plan in place which ensures all activities comply with government guidelines.

“The IRFU with the four provinces will deliver strategic support to clubs in the coming weeks to help them make the most of non-contact training for the purposes of wellbeing, fitness and skill development.”

Stephen Kisbey-Green – Co-Editor