Vancouver, BC – April 23, 2020: The 2020 Western Canada Rugby Championships are cancelled due to the various event, travel, and social-distancing COVID-19 restrictions likely to still be in place over the summer. The event was planned for August 3 to 9 in Kelowna, BC, and included U16 and U18 Boys’ and Girls’ Provincial XVs Teams from Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan.
This past weekend, British Columbia’s Public Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, made clear that measures would remain in place that result in “no large events” taking place in BC this summer. Preliminary plans for the 2020 Western Canada Rugby Championships involved travel, accommodation, and catering for over 1000 people, including players, officials, staff, and spectators from the four participating Provinces.
“Realistically we will not be having those big events where people gather together this summer,” said Dr. Henry in a press briefing held on Saturday. “We do not have enough herd immunity or community immunity to protect everybody and allow that type of event to happen.”.
Rugby Alberta’s Director of Rugby, Graeme Moffat, said “We are disappointed for all the participants involved as we’ve enjoyed great prior experiences in Kelowna. We look forward to continuing our working relationship with the western Provinces and plan ahead for 2021 when things return to normal.”.
After this decision was made, the BC Rugby Board approved the decision to further cancel the 2020 Provincial Regional Championships (PRCs) which effectively launch the representative XVs rugby season for age-grade players (i.e. U18 to U14 age groups).
“We share the disappointment of the many aspiring youth rugby players from across western Canada,” said BC Rugby CEO, Annabel Kehoe. “Without these Championships, the BC Rugby Board has further determined that all age-grade provincial 15s rugby programs that were planned for summer 2020 are cancelled. It’s clear that our attention must turn to ensuring that our sport can resume in some format at a local level, ensuring team sports can be part of our ‘new normal’.”.
The four Provincial Rugby Unions will now work towards planning the 2021 Western Canada Rugby Championships with the intention to return to Kelowna next summer with U16 and U18 Boys’ and Girls’ XVs competitions.