GREENOCK Wanderers' hopes of playing competitive action this season have been scuppered with Murrayfield bosses deciding against playing the 2020-21 campaign.

Scottish Rugby’s board has supported a recommendation by the Scottish Rugby Council to close competitive fixtures at all levels of the club and school game due to the national impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent public health guidelines now in place.

Teams had previously seen the season delayed until January 2021, however, this timescale has now been extended to the end of the regular season in spring 2021.

With the current public health guidelines in place, full contact training and non-competitive (friendly) matches cannot be resumed, resulting in the vast majority of players being unable to fully and safely prepare for competitive matches in the new year as previously intended.

The current government regulations also continue to limit the ability of clubs to journey to games as travel restrictions at various levels are in place across the country, including some areas where this is limited to essential purposes only.

Despite the cancellation of the revised competitive league programme, Scottish Rugby aims to facilitate local friendly fixtures in the months ahead at a time when it is safe to do so.

Greenock Wanderers director of rugby John Dyer said: “Although we won’t have any competitive games this season, we will continue to train across all age groups as best we can to prepare ourselves for the potentially upcoming friendly games."

Club development officer AJ Guthrie said: “Although it’s a shame no one will get competitive games, we have to make sure that all of our own players and opposition players are not at risk, so I do understand and support the decision.

“We have made huge strides so far this year in improving the club's teams across all age groups, and we will hopefully continue to do so, making Greenock Wanderers a real force within Scottish Rugby once again, at all age groups.”

Scottish Rugby has also confirmed that over the coming months the Rugby Development Department remains committed to providing clubs like Greenock Wanderers and schools with practical and financial support.

The supporting clubs investment programme, which was created in response to Covid-19, sees important changes to elements of its criteria, due to the closure of the competitive season, namely participation funding and player improvement funding, which were previously listed as conditional upon fulfilment of fixtures.

These elements will now be replaced by a top-up payment, similar to the amount which a club may have earned from the original supporting clubs investment scheme had the revised competitions for this season gone ahead.

Scottish Rugby’s director of rugby development Sheila Begbie said: “Along with the Scottish Rugby Board and Council, Rugby Development are equally disappointed that there will be no competitive fixtures at the grassroots level for season 2020-21.

“We will continue to communicate any changes to the return to rugby levels framework through our weekly club communications email, the club support page on our website, and we will host webinars to update the club community where appropriate.

“Our focus is resolute on supporting our clubs. On a practical level, we are developing a new digital tool to enable clubs to canvas for friendly fixtures when it is safe to do so and in-line with the Scottish government guidance and regulations.

“We hope that the practical and financial support on offer will reassure clubs and schools of our dedication to guide them through what continues to be a difficult time.”

Greenock Wanderers would like to thank all of its sponsors, coaches, players and parents for all of their support through this difficult time.

l Greenock Wanderers is sponsored by MM Search.