The 2021 Rosslyn Park HSBC National School 7s has been postponed until the summer, subject to discussions with relevant stakeholders.
The tournament was the last man standing of the major school competitions for the 2020/21 season and unsurprisingly it too has fallen as lockdown restrictions make it highly unlikely that school level rugby of any form would be back up and running by late March.
It is yet another tough blow to schools rugby in the UK and beyond, and a hard one to take for Rosslyn Park, too, who had to cancel the 2020 tournament at the last minute as the Covid-19 pandemic began to bite.
In a statement the Tournament Director, Andrew Higgins, said:
“Given the disappointment of the 2020 Rosslyn Park HSBC National Schools Sevens’ cancellation and the importance that rugby plays in young people’s lives, we have done everything in our power to deliver a tournament in March 2021.”
“However, given the serious ongoing circumstances, we feel that we simply cannot proceed with good conscience and, very sadly, we can confirm that we are postponing the 2021 March event.”
“While we must be realistic and recognise the current national situation, we are working with the RFU & ERSFU on the feasibility of hosting a Summer Tournament. This will be contingent on meeting several criteria and we are currently examining the format and safety aspects.
We hope to consult with as many schools as possible regarding our plans. This may be both directly and through teaching associations/bodies so that we may understand the appetite for attending a summer event.”
“If we are unable to stage a tournament in 2021, we will stand by our commitment to either refund or carry over the payment to 2022. However, we would suggest that we should first complete our discussions with the schools, RFU and government about a Summer Tournament. We will then be in a position to either publish details of an updated summer format or decide that it would not be possible to host a tournament this year.”
“We will keep you informed.”
The silver-lining to the announcement is the possibility of a summer tournament, something that would give players for whom 2020/21 is their final season a chance to finally pull on their school shirt for one last run out, but also something that could give an indication to the future feasibility of summer school 7s.
Tournaments are lost each and every year to frozen or waterlogged pitches, and not just the odd tournament, summer 7s has long been a possible solution to this – not only allowing tournaments to go ahead but also for 7s to be played on surfaces that reflect the nature of the game.
Should Rosslyn Park be successful in their attempt to stage a summer tournament, schools rugby could get an unexpected glimpse into a possible future.