Rugby Classic postponed due to Covid-19
The World Rugby Classic has become the latest major sporting event on the island to have been postponed or cancelled because of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic.
John Kane, the Classic president, said he consulted with the Bermuda Tourism Authority, corporate sponsors and security advisers before making the “inevitable” decision.
The weeklong tournament, which attracts thousands of revellers, was due to be held from November 9 to 14 at the National Sports Centre. It is the first postponement of the Classic since it began 32 years ago.
“There are so many parts, which go to make up the Classic, that it would be impossible to be able to control all of them to the high level required and, not being able to do so, simply puts too many people at risk,” Kane said.
“Bermuda is currently one of the safest destinations in the world and it is important that it remains so until Covid-19 is beaten.
“You've also got to figure out about the players coming in, the visitors coming in, and what happens when they return home.
“Will they have quarantine and how does that affect them? You could bring the players in and they end up being quarantined for 14 days!
“There are too many unknowns. I think we were always going to make this decision; it was a case of wait and see.”
The Classic joins a long list of local sporting events to have fallen foul of the novel coronavirus, including the Carifta Games, Cup Match, the Eastern Counties Cup and the Bermuda Half-Marathon Derby.
Kane said among the decisive factors in postponing the event was protecting the reputation of the Classic, one of the island's most popular annual events.
“A lot of corporate firms who normally support us have been told not to [sponsor] much this year,” Kane added.
“It would look a bit odd if they suddenly started having hospitality at the Classic when there's a lot more important things going on right now.
“The Classic would hate to be the event that brought more Covid-19 into Bermuda. That wouldn't do our reputation any good.
“Plus, we would have only been able to let in a certain amount of people [for safety reasons]. Then you have to figure out whether you have enough people to attend and pay for the actual event.”
Kane said he had contemplated holding a smaller tournament involving four teams: the Classic Lions and Ireland, Rugby Italian, France Classic Rugby and champions Classic Pumas.
“We had ruled out the United States, Canada and South Africa,” he said. “We had four from the other teams, possibly a Lions team combined with the Irish, France, Italy and Argentina. They had pretty much agreed all things being equal.”
Although the Classic has historically always been held in November, Kane said it could be brought forward depending on the situation with Covid-19.
“There's no requirement it needs to be held in November,” Kane added.
“We could hold it in April. So the Classic is postponed, not cancelled, and we will see at a later when in 2021 it can be safely held.”