Dublin University Football Club (DUFC) will not get a chance to finish out their campaign in the All-Ireland League (AIL) Division 1. The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) have made the decision to cancel all domestic rugby competitionse immediately, as a result of the growing concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
“The directive applies to all incomplete national and provincial competitions. It was ratified by the IRFU Rugby Committee on Thursday March 19th 2020,” explained the governing body in a statement earlier this evening.
“Cups will be shared by finalists, where cup competitions have reached the final fixture. There will be no promotion or relegation in any of the five divisions of the Energia Men’s All-Ireland League.”
“There will be no league or cup winners in any competition organised at a national level including the Energia All-Ireland Leagues, Energia Women’s All-Ireland Cup and the Energia Bateman Cup.”
Cork Constitution, the current leaders of the AIL, might feel hard done by as a result of this news, as they hold a 12 point lead in the league as things stand. Meanwhile, Clongowes Wood College and Newbridge College will now share the title of the Leinster Schools Senior Cup, having missed the opportunity to play in the RDS on St. Patrick’s Day.
This comes nearly a week after DUFC’s fixture against Lansdowne was also called off. The match was set to draw a big crowd as the two powerhouses were to be marshalled by world-famous referee Joy Neville. As a result, Tony Smeeth’s men end the season in eighth place with four games going unplayed, finishing ahead of University College Cork and the newly promoted Ballynahinch.
The IRFU are following the lead of the Guinness Pro14 who earlier today indefinitely suspended the league and cancelled the final which was due to take place at the Cardiff City Stadium. Refunds are available for anyone who has already bought tickets.
Speaking after the statement was given, the IRFU Director of Rugby Development, Colin McEntee, was adamant that this was the right call.
“The decision to end the domestic rugby season for 2019/2020 season has not been made lightly. All options were discussed and the IRFU is satisfied it has arrived at the only equitable solution. These are challenging times for us all and we know clubs will be impacted by this directive, but we will look back at this season as one where we put the physical welfare of our rugby community above all else.”
Men’s captain, James Hickey, was disappointed but saw the logic behind the cancellation. “It is very unfortunate that the season has ended early and that the remaining matches, especially the Colours match, have been cancelled,” he said. “We understand and agree with the decision taken given the exceptional circumstances.”
Hickey took the opportunity to praise the many mentors and colleagues he’s had during his time at DUFC. “I’d like to thank all of the players, coaches and administrators for their incredible work and commitment to the club throughout the season,” he said, adding: “I’d particularly like to thank Tony Smeeth, Kay Bowen and John Boyd for their ongoing significant contributions to the club.”
“It has been an honour to captain Trinity Rugby this season and one I will always remember. An incredibly enjoyable year with many great moments both on and off the pitch. I have no doubt the club will go from strength to strength in the coming years.”