By Abi Curran
University and college sports clubs have reacted to the news of a spectator ban on matches from the beginning of Epiphany term.
The ban is expected to be in place until further notice with the university continuing to look at the measure on an ongoing basis. The rule applies to both indoor and outdoor sports.
The announcement from Team Durham was made as an attempt to combat the rapidly increasing number of Covid-19 cases and ensure a “safe return to Durham and to enable you all to continue to take part in sport.”
One club which the measures are expected to have a particular impact on is DURFC. In Michaelmas term, the club drew in crowds estimated at over 4,000 for their charity fixture against Exeter University.
Speaking to Palatinate about their reaction to the measures, a spokesperson from the club said, “DURFC are absolutely committed to doing all we can to control the spread of the virus and we understand and support such measures being put in place until we can get fans safely watching at Hollow Drift.
“We would be extremely disappointed to not have fans at home games at all this term. We hope to work with the university to find a way to allow spectators to attend games.”
The Palatinates will continue their BUCS Super Rugby campaign against Leeds Beckett at Hollow Drift on Wednesday 26th January.
The new measures will also impact college sport. Exec member, Joe Davis, of Hild Bede Rugby Club spoke of his frustration which will impact the club’s Floodlit Cup campaign: “It’s obviously unfortunate because spectators bring a lot of energy to games. However, I think a lot of people are just grateful that they can play college sport this year.”
HBRFC have already had their first-round floodlit fixture against Trevelyan College Rugby Club cancelled twice due to poor weather conditions and an absent referee.
Without support from spectators, the stands at Maiden Castle and Hollow Drift will remain empty until the University conducts a review and decides otherwise. The last two years have shown how important fans are to sport at all levels. With Omicron still raging, clubs wait again for rules to restrictions to loosen.
Image: Thomas Tomlinson