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Shutdown Extended; Club 7s Under Microscope

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Shutdown Extended; Club 7s Under Microscope

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USA Rugby has announced that rugby activities in the United States will continue to be suspended through the month of May.

In an announcement released today, USA Rugby said, in part: "The welfare of our rugby community and social contribution to limiting the effect of the virus remains first priority, as we hope everyone is remaining healthy and safe."

With the COVID-19 pandemic still causing most of the country to basically remain in their homes as much as possible, and with the Centers for Disease Control still urging social distancing, rugby is untenable at the moment.

"USA Rugby will continue to monitor CDC guidelines as it relates to social distancing, community sporting events and group gatherings. We will also continue to take into consideration USOPC and World Rugby advice through this process. If the CDC status changes and a potential return to play date is feasible, those details will be communicated to the membership immediately.

An update on the suspension of play and determination of the USA Rugby Club 7s National Championship will be provided by June 1, 2020."

The Club 7s Nationals is basically the next major event USA Rugby runs that hasn't been canceled. 

Interestingly, National Club 7s Working Group Chair Howard Kent sent out a communication today outlining what it will take to have a sevens season.

As Kent mentioned, teams won't be able to just take the field once rugby gets the OK to return. Players need to get back in shape; teams need to be assembled. It will take several weeks to make rugby games and tournaments competitive and safe.

Kent said safety is the key concern, adding that the entire country needs to get clearance for public gatherings and sporting events before any serious discussion of a national 7s season can begin.

Kent added that teams and venues still need insurance, and given USA Rugby's bankruptcy proceedings, that's a question (although maintaining standing in a Chapter 11 case requires the organization to make good on its existing operational bills). Kent also pointed out that the nationwide shutdown of activity means many people might be out of a job, and the costs of playing and traveling could be very onerous on players, coaches, and referees.

So, there's a timeline to consider.

Said Kent:

"As a MINIMUM it would likely take three weeks from the Team training clearance for most participants to have some sort of team fitness/coordination to be able to play," (emphasis Kent's). As a MINIMUM it would likely take one month from the from the Team training clearance for event hosts to secure a venue, prepare and get the word out to teams for a qualifier event."

Kent then outline a timeline that said that a shortened summer season would be possible if rugby started May 15 or event as late as July 1. But any later than that and there'd be no national tournament.