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Relegation reprieve for Greens as season is declared null and void

By Gordon Calder

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Evan Sutherland powers his way towards the try line for Caithness in a match against Hillhead Jordanhill. The Greens will remain in National League Division Three next term. Picture: James Gunn
Evan Sutherland powers his way towards the try line for Caithness in a match against Hillhead Jordanhill. The Greens will remain in National League Division Three next term. Picture: James Gunn

CAITHNESS rugby club have avoided relegation and will stay in National League Division Three after it was decided the 2019/20 campaign should be declared null and void because of the difficulties caused by coronavirus.

The decision was made by the Scottish Rugby Union after the season was curtailed early due to the pandemic. The governing body looked at a number of options, including which teams should be promoted or relegated, but made its decision after consulting the clubs.

It means there will be no automatic promotion/relegation from any division in Scotland.

The Greens had four matches to play – three away and one at home – when the season came to an end and were one of the three clubs occupying the relegation places in their division. They were third from bottom, ahead of Perthshire and Carrick, while Berwick were at the top of the table.

Caithness club president George Sinclair said: "We will still be in National League Three next season but we are at the stage at the moment where it would not have done us any harm to go back to the Caledonia League.

"We are a team in transition with a lot of young players so it will be a tough challenge next season and a tough learning process for the youngsters, but that is the decision and we are where we are. The decision would never please everyone."

Sinclair said the closure of the club pavilion would have an impact on income but he did "not anticipate too many changes" regarding players.

He pointed out there is a proposal to restructure the leagues in 2021 after consultation with the clubs.

Dee Bradbury, president of Scottish Rugby, said: “It was clear from the outset that, in terms of the consequential impact on the various leagues in terms of promotion/relegation there would be no 'right' solution, particularly once it was clear that our preferred option of completing the season would no longer be possible.

“Every solution we looked at was likely to be problematic in some way – none was likely to be supported by everyone. It was therefore considered essential that the full range of options were explored. Each potential option was sense checked and that, as far as possible, a broad consensus was reached across the game as to the most appropriate outcome.

“We fully accept some clubs will be disappointed with this decision and share their frustration that, for wider societal reasons beyond our control, their hard work to push for success this season hasn’t yielded the rewards they deserve.”

Scottish Rugby’s director of rugby development, Sheila Begbie, said: “It was important we went through a thorough process to canvass opinion and offer a range of options for how the season could be concluded.

“I would like to thank all the clubs that contributed to this process and for their valuable input. While there are obviously clubs who will be disappointed, I believe this is a fair solution for everyone in these unprecedented circumstances.”

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