Even before Monday’s news of the world’s first effective coronavirus vaccine broke, Jersey Reds officials revealed they remained hopeful the 2021 Siam Cup double-header would go ahead as planned in May despite the blanket cancellation of all community rugby for the rest of the season.
Guernsey Raiders director of rugby Jordan Reynolds has now echoed those sentiments.
‘Vaccine or not, we were still fairly hopeful [of playing the Siam] because we still have a fair amount of time between now and May,’ he said.
‘Obviously, we desperately need those fixtures to go ahead, for the sanity of the community as much as anything else, but also because the Siam is really important for the clubs and everyone involved, so we will try to make that happen.
‘If a vaccine does become available, of course it would make it easier and any news at the moment is good news.’
Guernsey’s strategy in dealing with the pandemic has allowed Raiders to resume full-contact training and play a few games.
In that regard they are a long way ahead of Jersey.
‘In Jersey, at the moment, we are following the RFU guidelines to the letter,’ Reds president Cliff Chipperfield said.
‘With us, it’s the travel as well. If it was someone like Winchester, they could just travel down the road and get a game of rugby. Here we then have to consider all the rules about flying and flying out and no employer is going to let a guy go off and play a game of rugby with the risk involved.
‘Next Saturday, we are starting a mini-touch tournament, mixed-teams with Athletic and our women playing together. We can play touch but if there was to be contact rugby in Jersey, those decisions are made by James Tilley [head of sport at Jersey Sport] and his team, rather than us.
‘Jersey Sport and the government are dictating which sports can or can’t be played in Jersey and at the moment contact rugby just isn’t there. Now if contact rugby starts happening elsewhere then we can communicate with James. But that decision isn’t ours and health issues are going to come first.’
‘If you think about it, the last sport that is going to be okayed is our sport. Quite understandably rugby is at the bottom of the list because of the intensity, because of the scrummaging and the tackling. It’s full on contact when we still need to be maintaining our distance.
‘We’ve still got the Siam Cup double-header. Let’s see where we are in May but those two fixtures are in the book.
‘If it’s at all possible, they will be played but it depends on what laws we need to comply with.’
Back in Guernsey, the third game of Raiders’ three-match ‘Test’ series takes place in 10 days’ time and Reynolds suggested something along the same lines could take place next spring if the Siam double-header looks likely to proceed.
‘There’s only so much you can do and we would not want to jump out of the blocks straight after New Year, but if we had something to look forward to like the Siam, we could base selection for it on one of those Test series and that would give everyone added incentive.’