The Island club are on course to begin the much-delayed 2020/21 campaign on 6 March but have yet to receive final approval from the Government of Jersey. They have also been hampered by Rugby Football Union-related set-backs in London, compounded on Friday by an 11th-hour abandonment of a vote on whether to abolish Premiership relegation.
It is understood that outgoing Government of Jersey chief executive Charlie Parker called an executive meeting on Thursday to discuss the Reds’ upcoming campaign and their lockdown exemption, while also touching on whether community team sport should remain banned.
It has been argued elsewhere that outdoor grassroots leagues could be permitted to resume if the Reds receive a government green-light to play, given that Harvey Biljon’s men will be hosting incoming squads at St Peter and themselves be travelling to the mainland for fixtures.
However, the rugby club’s professional status represents a strong counter-argument, with the Reds working under strict restrictions as part of an elite sports framework imposed by the UK government and the RFU, including tight ‘bubbles’ and being tested twice a week. Under such measures, it is likely that inbound clubs will be forced to fly in via charter, travel straight to and from Stade Santander and be kept away from the wider Island community.
One alternative route around Jersey’s border-protection policies would be for the Reds to play their opening five fixtures all away from home, meaning visiting squads – numbering 30-plus – will not arrive until at least mid-April, when a lower Covid-case rate would be anticipated.
With Championship fixtures now due to be released on Monday, it is believed that Island politicians will meet health officials again early next week to establish their final stance. If approval is given, Reds’ staff could attempt to squeeze in at least one pre-season fixture before league games begin.
Championship clubs were initially placed into two groups of six for the adapted season but London Scottish’s decision to withdraw this week appears to have put paid to that plan. It is now thought that a straight 11-team league will be established, with clubs playing each other just once, for a ten-game season. Home and away fixtures will be drawn at random.