Message from the Owners - February 2021
Old Glory Nation,
At last, the 2021 Major League Rugby season approaches. After having been one of the first leagues to cancel the balance of its 2020 season in early March and suffering through an off-season of unique uncertainty, MLR is now committed to proceeding with its 2021 schedule as planned. Regular season competition will begin the weekend of March 20, and the season will culminate with the Championship game on August 1. Old Glory is committed to be there, every step of the way.
Old Glory players from our region are already well into pre-season strength & conditioning training. Out-of-town and international players are arriving in the coming days, and team training formally begins on Monday, February 15. We are proud that most of the roster that leapt to a 4-1 start in 2020 is returning, supplemented by a number of strong additions. Our coaching and rugby operations staff, led by Head Coach Andrew Douglas, return ready to pick up where they left off. Our partnership with the St. James provides us with the best training facilities and pre-season venue in MLR, and our new lease at Segra Field will provide us and our fans with the best possible rugby-viewing experience in the mid-Atlantic. In all ways, we are ready to take on the MLR in 2021.
With all that said, the last year has been extraordinarily challenging for everyone. COVID-19 has touched us all. Many of us have experienced the virus ourselves, or had a loved one infected, possibly hospitalized, or even tragically lost. Additionally, the pandemic has brutalized our economy, costing many of us jobs or business opportunities. Certainly, it has kept us in our homes and out of stadiums, as well as every other gathering place, missing so much of what life has to offer. Unfortunately, it is clear that 2021 will be profoundly affected as well.
We are committed to do everything possible for Old Glory to play its games and share them in every way that is safe and practical with our supporters, sponsors, and the rugby lovers of greater Washington. It is increasingly clear, however, that we will have to be prepared to improvise and adapt as this season gets underway and progresses. None of us quite know what 2021 will hold.
For example, our players, coaches and staff will be operating under strict league COVID safety protocols. As they join our team, all are required to quarantine upon arrival and undertake frequent testing, both before and throughout the season. The protocols will minimize risks to the team but will also call for precautions to be taken in response to any positive tests or known exposures. MLR teams may therefore find themselves, at times during the season, playing games without some players, or even obliged to forfeit a game as a result of exposure or positive tests.
Similarly, it is currently not yet clear to us when, or to what extent, we will be able to allow fans into our venues, even in reduced-capacity situations. We must and will follow the guidelines of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Commonwealth of Virginia, as they evolve through each month of the season. If, at any time, we are unable to provide an Old Glory ticket-buyer with access to a game venue, we will strive to provide a fair value in exchange. If all else fails, we will of course provide credits for games to which we cannot provide access or, if preferred by the fan, a full refund of that game’s ticket value.
Old Glory is building for the long haul. We plan to be a fixture in this community and a force in North American rugby for many years to come. In these difficult, pandemic-affected early years, we ask for your continued patience, cooperation, and support. We’ll do everything in our power to make this a safe but forward-looking return to rugby, which one day we will all look back on with pride.
We believe there has never been a more important time to see the sport of rugby thrive in the United States. We know our sport connects people, communities, and nations. We look forward to the day we can enjoy our beautiful sport together, and we are committed, more than ever, to making that happen.
With all our best wishes,
Chris Dunlavey and Paul Sheehy