Buccaneers' season over as IRFU pulls plug on domestic rugby

Buccaneers RFC's campaign of fixtures has ended prematurely after the IRFU's decision to conclude the domestic season with immediate effect due to ongoing concerns over the Covid-19 pandemic.

With Government action in combatting the coronavirus set to continue well beyond March 29, the IRFU said it "wants to play its part while giving clubs the chance to put plans in place for the 2020/21 season".

The directive applies to all incomplete national and provincial competitions, and it was ratified by the IRFU Rugby Committee yesterday (March 19).

There will be no promotion or relegation in any of the five divisions of the Energia Men’s All-Ireland League. Cups will be shared by finalists, where cup competitions have reached the final fixture.

Buccaneers are in eighth position in the Division 2A table and were due to play five more games. The Athlone side was set to play Nenagh Ormond on March 14 until fixtures were suspended owing to restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus. 

There will be no league or cup winners in any competition organised at national level including the Energia All-Ireland Leagues and the Energia Bateman Cup.

Buccaneers RFC was set to host the Energia Women’s All-Ireland Cup finals at Dubarry Park, but now they also won't take place.

The Fraser McMullen U-20 Cup, the Junior Interprovincial championships and the round-robin qualifiers for the Energia All-Ireland League have also been cancelled.

The planned expansion of the Energia Women’s All-Ireland League for the 2020/21 season remains in place.

Speaking about the announcement, IRFU Director of Rugby Development Colin McEntee said: "The decision to end the domestic rugby season for the 2019/2020 season has not been made lightly. All options were discussed and the IRFU is satisfied it has arrived at the only equitable solution."

"These are challenging times for us all and we know clubs will be impacted by this directive, but we will look back at this season as one where we put the physical welfare of our rugby community above all else. Clubs are now in a position to make plans for the 2020/21 season. We look forward to marking the 30th anniversary of the All-Ireland League," McEntee added. 

Meanwhile, this season's Guinness PRO14 league - in which Connacht and the other Irish provinces participate - has been suspended indefinitely. And this year's PRO14 final, scheduled for Cardiff on June 20, has been cancelled.