Prospects are diminishing for any meaningful club rugby competitions in the 2020-21 season after the national governing body confirmed there will be no club or school action until at least January 2021.
The Scottish Rugby Board announced on Friday that it is delaying the planned return of competitive rugby, at all levels of the club and school game, until next year.
The Super6 Sprint Series, which was scheduled to begin on October 31, has also been cancelled with indications that the tournament will not take place this season.
Scottish Rugby has revealed that more than a dozen clubs across the country have reported positive coronavirus cases in recent weeks, resulting in facilities being temporarily closed and deep cleaned, with training sessions postponed.
The news is not unexpected, given the tough new measures implemented by the Scottish Government this week, in conjunction with grassroots sporting bodies, to tackle a rising number of Covid-19 cases in most parts of Scotland.
Yet it represents a fresh blow to organisations which are already struggling, especially with club bar facilities now closed for at least the next 16 days.
Scottish Rugby president, Ian Barr, said: “After much careful consideration, and following a detailed briefing by colleagues in Rugby Development, our Chief Medical Officer and updates from Scottish Rugby’s Threat Management Group, we took the difficult decision to recommend delaying the start of competitive rugby until January 2021, which the board fully supported.
“We know many clubs and schools were preparing well and looking forward to resuming competitive matches, often against their local rivals in proposed regional fixtures.
“But we must put the safety of our players, volunteers and the local communities first.”
Officials are drawing up contingency for a truncated fixture schedule from January to April.
However, it’s looking possible that rugby will suffer the same fate as Scottish cricket, which endured the cancellation of all meaningful club activity in 2020.
Even if organisations such as Aberdeen Grammar, Gordonians and Highland eventually get the green light to resume playing in the New Year, it is likely to be for only a short period of time, without fans present and will obviously be dependent on winter conditions.