The RFL have confirmed the cancellation of the 2020 Champion Schools competitions as a result of the Covid-19 suspension.
The annual competition, which involve schools from up and down the country and include boys and girls from Year 7 to Year 11, is thought to be the biggest knockout tournament in world rugby league but will no longer continue this year.
The majority of competitions had reached the regional finals stage before the sport was suspended in March, with two regions – boys in North East, and London and the South East – having already played their finals.
With ongoing uncertainty over both when senior schools will reopen, and when any form of junior rugby league will be resumed, the RFL have deemed it unpractical to stage the national final days, which would usually be held during the summer term.
The announcement also means that the traditional Year 7 Boys’ Steven Mullaney Memorial Final, which acts as a curtain raiser to the Challenge Cup at Wembley, will also not be played.
RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer said: “While we realise there will be many higher-profile sporting fixtures and competitions that are affected by the current situation, this is an especially sad cancellation for us to announce.
“The Warners Champion Schools competitions give so much enjoyment to so many youngsters, as a result of a huge amount of work and organisation that is put in by teachers, parents and our RFL staff – with generous financial support from Gary Warner over the last two years.
“The National Finals Days have become established at Victoria Park in Warrington over the last couple of summers, and the Steven Mullaney Memorial Match is a special part of Challenge Cup Final day at Wembley.
“Unfortunately, the unique circumstances of 2020 mean it won’t be possible for the competitions to be completed. We will do all we can to play more of the regional finals, and hopefully the majority of the boys and girls who have been involved in this year’s matches will join us in looking forward to making the tournament even bigger and better in 2021.”
The RFL will this week unveil the latest initiative to keep youngsters active and involved in Rugby League while normal fixtures are suspended, by launching Virtual Clubs, which follows on from the popular #SkillToPlay and #FitToPlay campaigns launched early in the Lockdown.
Champion Schools 2020 – regional winners
North East (Boys)
Y7 –Hexham Middle School
Y8 – Seaton Sluice Middle School
Y9 – Whitley Bay High School
Y10 – Whitburn C of E Academy and Egglescliffe School (draw)
Y11 – Whitburn C of E Academy
London and South East (Boys)
Y7 – Grey Court
Y8 – Howard Of Effingham
Y9 – Grey Court
Y10 – Howard Of Effingham
Y11 – Howard Of Effingham