Question & Answer Session
Rumours and Press
The Return of Rugby
What is the current situation as to when rugby is likely to return and what format will it be (i.e. will it be behind closed doors)?
- Premiership Rugby (PRL) have been in discussions with the Government for many weeks about when it is likely to be safe to return to playing rugby, when we can return to training, and when it is likely that we will be permitted to host crowds again.
- The Government has issued protocols for how and when professional sport can resume, but because of the specific nature of our sport we do not yet have the go ahead to resume training. We expect to receive notification of when we may be able to resume training in the first half of June. Once we have that timing then we will know when we can resume training.
- We expect that games will start to be played once training has been underway for a few weeks. How many weeks depends upon how quickly full contact training can resume, but we expect it to be between 4 – 8 weeks. Clearly it is important that players are fully prepared before the season recommences.
- Whether the games take place behind closed doors or not will depend upon Government advice at the time. The rules and recommendations are changing on an almost daily basis as new information becomes available.
- We are exploring every possible option, including if we may be able to have a smaller crowd, socially distanced, within the stadium.
- We want to welcome you back to Kingsholm just as soon as it is safe to do so.
Will there be any law changes implemented? Will scrums and mauls still be part of the game?
- World Rugby have approved some optional law amendments in response to the Covid-19 crisis. None of the amendments have been adopted in England, and we do not expect any significant law changes once we restart.
Do the Clubs have a voice at the table with PRL on the return of Rugby, or is the ultimate decision made by PRL?
- PRL is owned by the 13 Premiership Clubs (the 12 Clubs currently in the Premiership plus Newcastle Falcons), and CVC. All the clubs are involved in the decision making processes. Everyone is keen to start training and playing again as soon as it’s safe to do so.
Will the 2019/20 season definitely finish?
- Nothing is ‘definite’ as we are facing an unprecedented and rapidly changing scenario. It is, however, absolutely still the plan to finish the 2019/20 season. If things proceed as they currently seem to be then there is no reason why that shouldn’t happen.
What will the Club’s decision be on refunding the lost matches that fans have paid for?
- To be clear, at this time no matches have been lost, only postponed.
- We very much hope that all our remaining 2019/20 season games will still be played. Should that not be the case, or if games are played behind closed doors, we will offer fans a number of options.
- The attachment to this Q&A outlines what those options will be. We would very much appreciate it, and it would make a huge contribution to the future success of the Club, if fans were in a position to not request a refund (there are several other options available).
- We do understand, however, that some people will be in a difficult position themselves, and in those circumstances we will of course help as much as we can.
When do you think the players will start training again?
- We are expecting notification of when we can return to training in the first half of June. Once we have that notification we expect to be able to confirm when training can restart, and in what format. Our current thoughts are that we will be training from July, but this is not confirmed yet.
When can we expect an announcement on the Head Coach position?
- The fact that we are unable to train yet means that we have more time before we need to appoint a new Head Coach.
- We will be talking to our shortlist over the coming weeks, and plan to make an announcement in early July.
When will the 2020/21 season potentially start?
- The 20/21 season had been scheduled to start on September 19th, however, the 19/20 season is planned to be finished first.
- The start date of the 20/21 season therefore very much depends upon when the 19/20 season restarts and when it finishes. We would expect that we will be able to tell you plans for the 20/21 season at the same time that details of the restart of the 19/20 season are released.
Will Club Members who have committed to next season still get everything that is included, or will some games be played behind closed doors?
- This very much depends upon when the 20/21 season starts, and what the Government guidelines are at that time.
- At this point we would hope that the start of the 20/21 season would see us being able to safely welcome fans back to Kingsholm, but nothing is confirmed at this point.
- We will keep you fully informed as soon as we have more details.
- If you are paying by direct debit for your 20/21 Club Membership it would make a big difference to the Club if you were able to continue to do so. Should there be any reason that it subsequently transpires that some games have to be played behind closed doors, for example, we will offer you similar options to those in the attachment.
The Club’s position off the field
How are the Gloucester Rugby staff & players doing during this time? How have you engaged with them?
- The Club takes the welfare of its staff very seriously. Even before lockdown we were redoubling our efforts on mental wellbeing through the #BeKind initiative.
- As we went into lockdown we provided players with schedules for them to follow in order to keep themselves in good shape both physically and mentally.
- Although all the players and coaches are on furlough, we have been staying in touch on a personal level to make sure that everyone is okay. They have also been staying in touch with each other through Zoom calls etc.
- A similar level of contact has been in place for our commercial staff.
- There is also a weekly Zoom call which everyone, across the whole Club, is invited to join where we keep everyone informed of key information and developments at the Club and in the wider rugby environment.
How is Gloucester Rugby's financial situation?
- This crisis is a worldwide phenomenon which is affecting people and organisations across the world.
- In the case of PRL clubs we are all similarly affected by the significant challenges we are facing, and will continue to face, in the current and ongoing economic environment.
- There are one or two clubs with extremely rich owners who may be less concerned about the financial challenges. Gloucester Rugby, however, is in a better financial situation than many PRL clubs.
- Having said that, this shutdown has cost the Club a significant amount of money, and we are going to be heavily reliant on our fans’ and business partners’ support to ensure that we’re in the best possible position to be fully competitive going forward.
Rumours and Press
There are a lot of rumours floating around about all sorts of things at the moment, do you have any comments on any of the speculation?
- We make it a policy never to comment on rumours or speculation.
- However, it is important to realise that whereas podcasts, social media, news sites etc. are used to filling their space with news about the games that have just been played, they now no longer have that content. They therefore have to fill the gap with something else. It doesn’t always seem to be important whether or not that ‘something else’ is accurate.
What plans does the Club have to continue to communicate with fans?
- We have been issuing communications via our newsletter, as well as other communications direct from our Chairman or CEO when there is something specific to say or to announce.
- We have noticed, however, that a number of fans report that they did not receive those communications. When we have checked our Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM) system with the company that provides and manages it for us we have found some problems. Some people who believe that they are ‘opted in’ to receive communications from us (as per the GDRP regulations) are in fact not opted in. They have therefore not been receiving all the communications from us.
- Over the next few weeks we will be conducting numerous exercises and campaigns to ensure that all our fans are aware of the best way to receive the latest news direct from your Club, and that everyone who wants to receive those communications is properly ‘opted in’ to do so.
- Going forward we plan to update you weekly as to what any latest developments are, both in terms of Gloucester Rugby in particular, and in the general rugby environment.
- If you haven't been receiving regular updates and you'd like to, or think you should be already, please submit/re-submit your details here so we can update our records.