As sport tentatively tiptoes towards resumption, Christine Coffey provides an update from Student Sport Ireland in relation to third-level competitions for the 2020/2021 season.
With the abrupt end to the 2019/2020 academic year and lingering uncertainty around what the
return to the Belfield campus will look like, student athletes are unsure as to where their sporting
endeavours fall in the list of priorities for the upcoming semester. Some organisations such as the
GAA have tentatively begun to test the waters at club and local level, but balancing the protocols
implemented by both sporting groups and university staff may prove a logistical nightmare. The
University Observer spoke to Student Sport Ireland (SSI), who were optimistic about the potential
of intervarsity competitions and are working hard in conjunction with colleges and sporting groups in preparation for this academic term.
...balancing the protocols implemented by both sporting groups and university staff may prove a logistical nightmare.
SSI is the governing body tasked with coordinating third level sports across the country and is recognised in this role by both Sport Ireland and Sport Northern Ireland. Speaking with the University Observer, SSI have said they are “Actively reviewing everything, but there is confidence that SSI Competitions will take place in Semester 1”. The SSI Sports Clubs and Competitions committee will be meeting later in August to review the situation and “to put more concrete competition formats together”.
The on-campus gyms have been open since the start of this month and many of the campus-based teams, including UCD AFC, UCD Boat Club and Leinster Rugby, have returned to training. However, intercollegiate competitions have yet to receive a tangible return date. UCD clubs will have to put in place rigorous plans that meet both the regulations of their affiliate sporting bodies and those of the college. Indoor sports such as volleyball and basketball will encounter obstacles that field sports need not consider an issue. UCD regularly lays claim to the title of Ireland’s ‘Global Campus’ and also has students from all around the country. As such its clubs will have to accommodate for this when drafting plans for the return to sport on a bigger scale than some smaller campuses. When asked about navigating the differences in approaches to the return of sport between various colleges and their many sports, SSI said “We expect that there will be some changes to formats and all competitions will be opt in opt out for all institutions”.
“We expect that there will be some changes to formats and all competitions will be opt in opt out for all institutions"
Since the announcement of the 2-metre social distancing rule set to be implemented this
September, doubt has been cast over UCD’s previously projected 40-60% of normal classroom time
for undergraduates and 75-100% for their graduate counterparts. The number of new recruits and
returning members of UCD clubs will likely take a hit should the volume of students physically in
attendance be reduced. Matches behind closed doors in the UCD Bowl and a scaling down of UCD
student sports activities seem set to be a feature in Belfield for the foreseeable future.
Sport has started its gradual return to UCD, however truncated and unfamiliar it may seem.
Sanitation stations might pop up in Belfield pitches and SOP’s might infiltrate the sporting landscape
of the college, but both the SSI and UCD remain hopeful of co-ordinating something resembling a
regular sporting scene for the upcoming semester.