Supporters will be aware that RFU cancelled the rest of the season on Friday 20 March and have promised a further statement on the implications of the cancellation by mid-April. It is understood that this will address the consequences for promotion and relegation after “a thorough review to ensure fair and balanced outcomes for the game”. The cancellation was immediately followed by a government announcement effectively closing the clubhouse and gym with effect from 20 March.
The impact on the club has been that all rugby and clubhouse activity has ceased; we have lost 2 1st XV home league games – but been spared 3 away trips; we have lost a potentially lucrative Yorkshire Cup semi-final against Harrogate and the end of season Aire-Wharfe Cup; the Foresters are left sitting comfortably on top of the Northern Pilot League but have been denied the chance to make up ground in the Yorkshire Premiership Conference A; we have lost the Yorkshire-Lancashire County match in May and our various age group teams have seen their season end early. We have also seen the cancellation of summer events which contribute to the club’s finances such as the Etape du Dales and the Wharfedale Trail Half Marathon. In the context of a national health emergency, all these may seem to many to be of little concern and, indeed, our primary objective through the rapidly changing situation of recent weeks has been to look after the health of our players, our employees and our supporters.
Once the lockdown was implemented, the immediate focus of club management has been on the financial impact on the club as whole. I am pleased to say that we will be able to absorb the short-term hit from the loss of matches and summer events. We will look to take advantage of government support for our employees who are “furloughed” and will implement some other cost-saving measures – but we remain focused on next season and on getting back to playing rugby.
As we look forward to next season, we recognise that the Covid-19 outbreak will have a significant financial impact on many of our sponsors, supporters and members but Wharfedale RUFC will be ready to resume when the time comes – when we will need your support more than ever. In the meantime, we wish all supporters good health in the face of the Covid-19 challenge – stay home, stay safe and stay well.