RUGBY SCRAPBOOK: Club Rugby is rolling while Schools a crawling

VIMAL PERERA | Published: 2:00 AM Oct 23 2021

VIMAL PERERA 

The grass cut, grounds watered with the lines drawn, and the players are ready to perform. The Warrior›s sevens preparations are in progress, powered by ‘Dialog Axiata’, with a week left from today. The grass looks greener and more appealing. The tournament is a start, while giving the selectors an opportunity to pick the best for the upcoming Dubai 7s in November. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Rugby (SLR) announced the upcoming Calendar for 2022. 

The first on the Calendar is the Men›s and Women›s Sevens on 15 and 16 January. The dates give the clubs time to recover from the October end Sevens, and for those who need time for preparation, as they have around 12 weeks to get their players into the COVID environment requirements. These would be shorter practice times and handling the psychosocial aspects of stress. 

The Ten teams of the Warriors Cup will be a neck ahead and can bank on the experience to adjust. The most important in this COVID environment is to plan to mitigate disaster. The Clubs, as they have said, require a schedule to plan and be ready. They need to sell their prospects to sponsors. So, it is out and now time to start planning. Announcing its Calendar to the end of 2022, SLR has given a chance for stakeholders to do a SWOT and alternative course of action. Why you have to think of an alternative approach is because the implementation of the Calendar is subject to the whims of the pandemic. 

The league is planned from 18 February to 22 April, followed by the knockout from 6 to 15 May. The proposal may overlap the school calendar. Inter-Club Men›s and Women›s Sevens on 17 and 18 July. The under-21 inter-club will be on 6 and 7 August, followed by the inter-club league, which will start from 4 November and continue until 13 January 2023. While it is interesting to note that an under-21 is in the plan, what is missing is the ‘B’ Division. 

That could depend on how well the proposed Calendar works and how best the Clubs find their sponsors amiable to the proposed schedule. The schools fitting to this period makes including a ‘B’ Division not practical. Meanwhile, sources at School Rugby stated that the commence of schools’ rugby depends on the reopening of schools, and they see a possibility after the Advanced Level Examination, which may be in February 2022. 

However, the school›s Calendar is likely to clash with the Club Calendar, which will, in turn, affect the availability of grounds and match officials. After the pandemic, getting Rugby off the ground will be bound to drain available resources and spectator interest, as spectators will have to make a choice. However, if it starts and overlaps the school season, the spectator interest will be a more significant attraction toward school rugby. Getting Rugby off the ground is not an easy task, given the interruption of around two years. It needs to start somewhere, and even small.

VIMAL PERERA | Published: 2:00 AM Oct 23 2021

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