We hope during these uncertain times you are safe and doing what you can to remain healthy and active within your means. We would like to take this time to let you know how we are planning for the Fall 2020 senior club season with COVID-19. We realized a number of weeks ago that because we serve a large population, living across different states with varying guidelines in return to "normal" life, we were going to need a way to keep an eye on each state's progress and what that would mean for each club’s ability to return to team gatherings, practices and matches. With this in mind, we established State COVID Coordinators for each of the 7 states (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New York State, Rhode Island & Vermont) with a NERFU club. The purpose of this individual and role is to collect information on their state's phases, what that means for getting back to rugby for their clubs and report back to the E.D. of Clubs.
We are using this information to make an informed decision today that NERFU will be cancelling the competitive Fall 2020 season and will be implementing a socially structured season this fall.
The thought process began with the unknown: not knowing when or how states would emerge from COVID-19 and at what pace rugby clubs could begin to follow and implement USAR’s Return To Play guidelines; being unsure, even with steady progress, if states would be shut down again; wondering if clubs would have access to fields in a timely manner to begin practicing again; not knowing if there would be another wave in the Fall as experts have warned. We also looked at input from our senior club union members, which is the most important duty we have. We have many teams composed of healthcare and other essential workers, others who are immunocompromised and cannot risk contact at this time especially if another wave does come. There are other members who are uncomfortable playing without a vaccine etc. Our membership’s safety is number one and we do not feel it would be fair to punish clubs for being unable to participate to their fullest potential this upcoming season, which would occur in a competitive structure (i.e. forfeiture policy, relegation). Clubs should be allowed to make decisions for their members that does not negatively impact the team as a whole, but rather is the best choice for their overall safety and wellbeing during this unprecedented time.
Our plan going forward is to keep NERFU senior clubs informed on a bi-weekly basis. We will be providing information on each state in our union, resource links, current phases and what those phases may imply for your rugby club in regards to getting back out on the pitch. Depending on your state’s restrictions, and with guidance from USAR’s RTP Guidelines, we will help outline some safe options to give you a reason to throw those boots on!
Due to the ever changing climate we are in with COVID-19, our decision to implement a social structure does not mean that rugby is guaranteed this Fall. Our hopes are high for Fall 2020 and if rugby can be, it will be. Below are the State COVID Coordinators organized by state and they will be used to guide clubs in making a schedule when that time comes. We are preparing for the possibility of limited traveling schedules as state borders permit.
Please reach out to Kelsey Maguire, Executive Director of Senior Clubs, with further questions, comments or concerns regarding this decision.
Kelsey Maguire or Zach Boswell
New York State
Nick St. Germain