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Freshers – BUCS announces ‘Return to Play’ guidelines in response to COVID-19

Written by Sport, Sport on campus

The governing body for sports in Universities, the British Universities and Colleges Sport, have announced their ‘Return to Play’ Guidelines for next term.

After collecting information from ‘Over 60 institutions and more than 1,600 teams’, BUCS have announced major changes to sport within universities, with competition taking place on a regional, rather than national, basis being the most popular approach.

One of the biggest changes announced is that the emphasis on sport will shift from competition to fun, with ‘no rewards aligned to performance in the competition’. However, BUCS will ‘work in conjunction with members to recognise the performances and stories that arise as student sport returns to campuses’, meaning that players and teams will be recognised for their performances, without trophies or titles being awarded.

Sports fixtures and events will rely on ‘the discretion of institutions’ to allow for more flexibility, and cope with potential local lockdowns. A full calendar will be released in the future, once University teams have entered for events.

Unfortunately, despite these measures, some events have been cancelled. These include Indoor Athletics, Boxing, Slalom Canoeing, Track Cycling, Snowsports, Swimming – Speedo and the Autumn Taekwondo Competition. However, Weightlifting and Handball will be added to the list of events provided.

The BUCS seem to have made sufficient preparation for possible local lockdowns, which should protect students in sport. However, I don’t know if the lack of a formal system of achievement is a good thing or not. On the one hand, its good to see that sport will continue for the sake of fun, rather than competition, something sport on every level could do with a bit more of. Nevertheless, it does rather take the fire out of the game. Sportspeople often join university teams because they enjoy the competition. The lack of competition might reduce the interest in university sport, and therefore the quality of the sport being played.

For Newcastle, it’s a somewhat bittersweet development. While it’s great we’re going to see sport carrying on, Newcastle was ranked ninth overall with 2204 points in BUCS league table before the lockdown started. This means the University was on track to a fifth consecutive Top 10 finish, with the second highest number of league titles in any given year. Hopefully, the end to direct competition for the foreseeable future won’t break Newcastle’s spell at the top of University Sport.

I’ve sifted through the information in order to provide a general assessment of how sport will proceed next term. Find the full guidelines released by the BUCS here.

In response to recent BUCS updates, which are constantly changing due to COVID-19, Benthe Tanghe, Newcastle Universities AU Officer, had this to say…

“As mentioned in my update two weeks ago, BUCS have sent out their proposed Individual Events for Term One as well as announcing those Events that won’t be going ahead.  There are still some events being considered and these may or may not be rolled out so we will keep an eye out for this.

BUCS have recently sent out information around participation leagues (non-competitive) for Term one. After discussing this option within NUSU and with Fraser from the Sport Centre we have decided that Newcastle will not be taking part in these leagues

The reason for this is that the leagues offered lacked detail and would create significant logistical issues and concerns. All the other North East Universities have made that same decision. We will be working with our Regional colleagues at other Universities in the North East and possibly beyond to explore options around meaningful friendly matches/competitions that we might be able to take park in.”

Featured Image: Twitter @CourierOnline

Last modified: 29th September 2020

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