The true cost of cancelled games

When we first started #RUPLAYING, we were motivated by our headline: there’s nothing more frustrating than training all week only to get to Thursday or Friday and your opponents cry off.

In recent weeks, you have been coming to us with many more thoughts on the true cost of our cancelled games and when you think about all the people and the cost involved, it really adds emphasis to the cry, “Something must be done !”

Here are your thoughts and angles on the problem:

  • If you’ve had to negotiate hard with your loved one to get a Saturday pass for a planned game and then it gets cancelled, how understanding are they when you say “Sorry, it’s not going to happen this week but can I have next Saturday instead ?” It could involve a double-portion of minding the kids !
  • Self-employed people turning down work, other workers turning down shifts (or swapping with others) in order to play;
  • For a home match that is cancelled, all the food ordered in or shopped for at the supermarket. Paid for and possibly even cooked, all gone to waste;
  • Loss of revenue, especially at the bar, with staff rostered that might have to be paid;
  • Officials and ground staff inconvenienced;
  • Fans disappointed;
  • For away matches, the cost of transport that has already been booked – might lose a deposit, might have to pay the whole cost if the cancellation comes too late;
  • Some clubs have dedicated “away only” teams – so extra impact and delay until their next game;

For all the financial cost and wasted effort, there is an even more serious cost – frustrated players leave the game – forever.

Let’s face it, one cancellation is not the end of the world. But if it is such a regular occurrence and you’re giving up your precious Saturday, then there will come a point where even a dedicated player will say “enough is enough”.

Or even worse, think of the youth and mini teams. Many clubs have a huge number of youngsters registered and eager for a game but cannot field enough teams to guarantee them a game every week. Now what happens, if they have won a place in the team, are enthusiastic and excited for an upcoming game and it gets cancelled ? And then it happens again ?

A lot of kids will think:

“I don’t often get a game and so many get cancelled. My mates keep telling me to come and play footie – they always get to play”.


“Dad’s said he will come and learn Tai Kwondo with me instead. That sounds like fun.”

And the youngsters who are the future of grass-roots rugby (and possibly destined for even greater things) fall away from the game in droves.

What must be done ?

  • Obvious one but do our utmost not to cancel games ! If that means playing with one or two men down then so be it. Or borrow a player from the other team, if they can offer one.
  • Publish the list of who’s playing next Saturday on schedule and communicate with them, whether by email or social media and get them to confirm back. It’s called “positive reporting”. No response ? Replace them !
  • Sanction repeat offenders within the team who are always dropping out – no matter how good they are ! It’s all about commitment to their team.
  • Build networks of friendly contacts outside our immediate areas. Rugby union can be incredibly “local”, with teams rarely venturing outside a 20-mile radius and especially not over county borders !
  • Use resources such as to expand that network of teams that can be contacted at short notice.

There is no magic wand that will solve all the problems at grass-roots rugby and saving a Saturday game given two-hours notice of cancellation is a near impossibility, even with a wonderful resource such as #RUPLAYING ! That said, more flexibility about our teams and players and better networking within the community can only help.

Make games happen !