The government plans to set up the first of a series of regular meetings involving senior medical directors of the major sports this week in a bid to return to action as soon as possible.
The move was described by a source close to the plans as a “quickening of the pace” and intended to help sport resume “within weeks”, if progress was made.
The Chief Medical Officer’s staff would also be involved in the weekly meetings, and the Prime Minister has been briefed on the plan.
The specifics of each sport would be examined by health experts to see what protocols would be needed to get each up and running as soon as possible, meaning some would return sooner than others.
Testing, social distancing, hygiene standards and strict limits on the numbers of people allowed in venues would all be debated.
It comes just days after Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told MPs that he had been having “productive talks” with governing bodies from across British sport on restarting following the coronavirus shutdown.
However, a return to action still depends on the government’s five tests being met, especially an increase in testing, and meeting social distancing guidelines.
Sport at all levels is on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic which has claimed the lives of more than 19,000 people in the UK.
The Premier League, Women’s Super League and English football leagues have suspended the 2019-20 season indefinitely, while the lower-league season in Scotland has ended.
Cricket in England and Wales remains suspended until 1 July.
The first nine races of the Formula 1 season have been called off with the British Grand Prix scheduled to take place in July.
The London Marathon, which had been set to take place this weekend, has been rescheduled for October.
Rugby union’s Premiership clubs are working towards a best-case scenario of returning to action on the weekend of 3-5 July.
Golf’s Open Championship, which had been set to take place in Kent in July, has been cancelled with the three other men’s majors rescheduled.
The meetings are viewed as preparatory, and intended to avoid a further delay to seasons being resumed once approval is granted, rather than a sign that it was imminent. Indeed, there is an acceptance that the plans being put in place may not end up being implemented for months if progress elsewhere is not made.
Government officials have accepted that at this stage, sport would only be able to take place behind closed doors.
But there is a recognition that it may provide many people with a much-needed boost to morale after months of lockdown.
Officials are known to be nervous however about the prospect of fans congregating in large numbers outside stadia to celebrate if titles for instance are confirmed.
Dowden said this week that the Premier League was considering making some behind-closed-doors fixtures available free-to-air when the season restarts.
But officials are said to be mindful of commercial contracts with broadcasters Sky and BT, and recognise the importance of the revenue they generate to the sport more widely.
The Premier League holds its next meeting on Friday.
‘Suitable testing’ needed before return, says EFL
The English Football League has said it “welcomes the current steps being taken” by the government and that a return to playing could only come about “through a continued collaborative approach”.
In a statement issued on Saturday, the organisation – which oversees the Championship, League One and League Two – added that “suitable testing arrangements” must be in place before football in England can resume.
“The position of the EFL remains unchanged in that the priority is to resume the 2019-20 season as soon as it is possible with matches only returning at an appropriate point and based on guidance from the relevant authorities,” said the statement.
The 2022 NARL season will start on May 21. The league will start with six teams next year. Five of them are known, likely being the Toronto Wolfpack, Cleveland Rugby League, Atlanta Rhinos, and DC Cavalry. It seems like the league will play all their games in one week in one market. They will then do the same with the other markets in the league.
The fifth market will be in New York City. However, the New York Freedom pulled out of the league on November 19. The NARL must have found a way to bring a New York City team. The biggest mystery is the name and city of the sixth team. This is what the NARL said about that:
The 6th market will be announced in the next few weeks!
What this sixth market will be no one knows. However, it is best to assume that it will be on the Eastern side of North America. So that rules out all the possible Western cities in North America for next year. Unfortunately, for people wondering, it looks like the Ottawa Aces XIII has moved on from the NARL. They have relocated to Cornwall and immediately deactivated their social media accounts.
Maybe they can look at having a team in Florida. Major League Rugby has not expanded to Florida as of right now and that could be a place to start for the NARL. According to Tim Baines of the Ottawa Sun, Atlantic Canada and Montreal have been targeted by the league. Would also not exclude Canada’s capital from this list. This is because when this article was published, the Aces still existed. The most likely place to have a team though is the state of Carolina. According to Carolina Lightning’s Facebook account, Lightning has applied for a NARL franchise.
The ambitions of the NARL
One of the things that are admirable about this league and the CCCRL is the plan to have a pro women’s sports league. This is something that people should not take for granted. There are other startup leagues that do not plan to have leagues of both genders. This is also quite significant as the professional game in women’s rugby league is not as established as men’s rugby league. Having a league could propel both the women’s national teams of both Canada and the U.S. to new heights.
Also, the NARL plans to add six more teams in 2023. Where these cities will be no one knows, it is great though, that the NARL has ambitions to grow their league to have even more teams. However, the most important point is that the season is set to begin next year. Getting that season to happen will bring more credibility to the NARL. It will get the league into a more positive light than it is right now.
Toronto Wolfpack Canada Cup 2022 coming soon.
After the success of the inaugural 2021 Canada Cup we will be hosting a 4 team event in May 2022.
Further details including the teams and schedule will be announced in the coming weeks.
Most importantly though is that the league will start on May 21 with six teams starting with New York City. The sixth team should also be announced soon. Expect a lot of exciting announcements to be announced shortly. It is unclear though if the Canada Cup is separate or part of the 2022 NARL season.
TORONTO — The Toronto Arrows have re-signed Canadians Andrew Ferguson, John Sheridan and Marcello Wainwright. All three are back for a fourth season with Canada’s lone Major League Rugby franchise.
TORONTO — The Toronto Arrows have re-signed Canadians Andrew Ferguson, John Sheridan and Marcello Wainwright.
All three are back for a fourth season with Canada’s lone Major League Rugby franchise.
Ferguson, a 29-year-old scrum half from Mississauga, Ont., has made 29 appearances (including 19 starts) for the Arrows, a franchise record for a back. He has won 10 caps for Canada.
Sheridan, a 27-year-old wing from Bolton, Ont., has made making 13 appearances (10 starts) for Toronto.
Wainwright, a 25-year-old back-rower from Toronto, has featured for the Canada Maple Leafs sevens development program.
“We’re looking forward to welcoming Andrew, John and Marcello back for their fourth seasons with the club,” Arrows GM and COO Mark Winokur said in a statement. “All three players are products of the Ontario Blues provincial program, Ontario universities, and Ontario grassroots clubs, and have been with our team since the very beginning.
“They’ve enjoyed the highs and have grown stronger following the lows over our eventful first three years in Major League Rugby.”
The Arrows have now signed 26 players ahead of the club’s 2022 MLR campaign.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2021