In what is one of the many sporting casualties to come of the Covid-19 crisis, the Brumbies on Tuesday announced that their Provincial Program would be axed for the 2020 season.
The program has been an integral part of this regions rugby representative pathway, offering Southern Inland Rugby Union products a chance to play against the best of Canberra, Monaro and the Southern Highlands.
The program also offers elite players the opportunity to be introduced to the Brumbies program.
Bulls’ players Menzies Seumanutafa and Vaughn Scott were both part of the system in 2019 and the later of the two said it was devastating for the local competitions.
“It is a disaster that most programs like this have been cancelled this year due to this virus that we have been hit with,” Scott said.
“I think it will interfere with rep level players being noticed for sure. I guess they (Brumbies) are trying to look out for the health of players and coaches but at the same time, it puts the development of rugby back a year.”
Scott, who will be progressing to the stronger Canberra competition in 2020, was hopeful a decision on community rugby would be made sooner rather than later, and said that cancelling this season could be the best option left on the table.
“I hope they make a decision for sure but at the same time, it doesn’t really help out the clubs that already put in the early trainings.
“I would rather them cancel it altogether and start one or two months earlier next year.
“This virus is deadly and I don’t think it would be good for any community rugby to go ahead this year. Even though everyone wants to play, one year of no rugby won’t hurt anyone.”
Craig Leseberg, Brumbies Rugby Deputy CEO and General Manager of community rugby, understood that the decision would be disappointing to those players on the cusp of representative honours.
“Whilst naturally there will be disappointment that we have had to make the decision to cancel the Brumbies Provincial Program for 2020, this decision has been made following continued assessment of the current Covid-19 situation, financial considerations and shifting priorities.
“The decision has been timed to ensure there is some certainty amongst key stakeholders including our three regional zones and their participating teams.”
Leseberg wanted stakeholders to focus on the recommencement of community rugby, and suggested that recent news from the federal government gave reason to believe some sort of local rugby would return this year.
“Our focus will be to continue our modelling and planning to ensure that once the situation allows, we are in a position as a union to administer meaningful competitions for all our clubs and teams to participate in for the balance of 2020,” Leseberg said.
“The recent national cabinet endorsement and release of the AIS framework for the reintroduction of sport in Australia has provided a vastly more positive outlook.”