Here (below and attached) are our plans for Staffordshire Cluster and Cup rugby from January onwards.
This may, of course, have to be changed dependent on government and RFU guidelines, but this gives us a starting point. To reduce travel, we have tried to group clubs geographically, at least until March. Cluster fixtures (with one exception) are due to start on 23rd January. Clubs can, of course, arrange friendlies before then, subject to national and RFU restrictions.
The lower levels are a little complicated, so let’s begin there. The Owen Clusters will replace the early rounds of the Owen Cup. Three Staffordshire clubs (Bloxwich, Handsworth and Wednesbury) are based in the West Midlands area and at present are not allowed to play other Staffs clubs. (Walsall are also based outside Staffs, but they are playing in the RFU clusters and are not in this season’s Staffs Cup.) We have set up a “sub cluster” of the three clubs in the W Midlands area, with a parallel sub cluster of Cannock, Essington and Willenhall. Three clubs grouped together mean that one has to sit out each Saturday, so we need more weeks to complete the programme and we are suggesting an “early kick off” on 16th January. The three teams in these sub clusters will play each other home and away and then (hopefully) play the clubs in the other sub cluster. The other Owen cluster has six teams, all Staffordshire based, and they will play each other home and away, starting 23rd January. Weather and Covid permitting, this will take us up to Easter (3rd April). Owen Cup semis (involving the top two in each cluster) will be in April.
Intermediate. All the clubs at this level are Staffordshire based. Two clusters of four teams, playing home and away, then playing the clubs in the parallel cluster once only. This would take us to Easter, leaving April clear for the first round and the semi-finals of the Cup. The draw is on the SRU website and includes Burntwood (in RFU clusters) but not Wolverhampton (Senior Cup).
Senior. Three of the four clubs are playing in RFU clusters. Clubs should arrange to play their Staffs Cup semi-final matches no later than 24th April (preferably earlier).Staffordshire Clubs fixtures 2021
President’s Day will host all the finals on the Bank Holiday weekend at the beginning of May.
Second teams. There is so much uncertainty around whether clubs will be able to field lower sides, and if so, how many, that we do not plan to set up any merit tables or leagues. We suggest that where both clubs have a second team, they mirror the first team fixture on the same date. Otherwise, clubs will have to find their own opposition.
GMS, WtR and referees.
It is good practice for matches to be logged on GMS, but this will have to be done manually by clubs and they will not migrate automatically to WtR.
Clubs have been asked to source their own referees until cluster matches start (requesting a referee from me by email if necessary) and once the cluster matches start, these will have to be entered manually on WtR to request a referee. As it’s the season of good will,
I will enter the cluster matches for January, but clubs should post their own from February. Select Staffordshire Clusters 2021 as the competition.
Clubs should make sure that they have appropriate access to both GMS and WtR (this would usually be the fixture sec) and that fixture secs are in contact with their opposite number at local clubs, as they may need to arrange friendlies for lower sides (and potentially first teams).
Thank you for your cooperation and support. If circumstances allow, we will make this work.
Best wishes to you all for Christmas, a Happy New Year and an uninterrupted 2021-22 season.
Steve Barr (on behalf of SRU Competitions Committee