Rugby Union: 2020 NSW Country Rugby Union Championships cancelled

Called off: Central North won't have the chance to avenge for their loss in last year's Richardson Shield final with the 2020 event cancelled.
Called off: Central North won't have the chance to avenge for their loss in last year's Richardson Shield final with the 2020 event cancelled.

The NSW Country Rugby Union Championships have become the latest casualty of the coronavirus pandemic with the NSWCRU Board announcing on Tuesday that it has decided to cancel the 2020 tournament.

The championships were due to be held in Tamworth on the June long weekend.

While falling after the restrictions imposed by Rugby Australia (all rugby-related activities are suspended until the first weekend in May), the NSW Public Health Order prohibiting mass gatherings isn't due to expire until the weekend after the championships.

More than 600 players, plus many more support personnel and spectators, were expected to attend the event, which was to be held at Scully Park and Ken Chillingworth.

The news follows the decision by the board of the Country Juniors last week to cancel all of their Country Championships.

In announcing the cancellation, NSWCRU said "the decision is always a hard one as it is such a great event and opportunity for zones to come together".

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"NSWCRU would like to emphasise that club rugby is the heartbeat of your communities and we will be working tirelessly with your zones to try and get competitions up and running ASAP so you can wear those club colours!," the post read.

On the back of historic Super Rugby clash between the NSW Waratahs and Bulls being cancelled, Central North president Tony Byrnes said it "was very disappointing".

The championships have taken many different forms over the years, but Byrnes couldn't remember the complete cancellation.

"It's probably been a long time since that's happened, who knows," he said.

"Never in our zones history anyway."

He thought the writing was on the wall.

"As soon as the public health order change and lowered the outdoor gatherings and they extended it out to the 18th of June, that was the sealer."

"That's what helped them make the final decision. Because by the Country Championships on the 7th of June, there'd be no training, no nothing, so it just wasn't going to work."

The blow has been cushioned a bit by the fact that Tamworth is locked in to host the championships until 2022.

That was announced last month following an agreement between Tamworth Regional Council and Wests Entertainment Group had also agreed to financially support to championships.