Leinster men’s committee produce proposed protocol document for 20/21 season.

The Leinster men’s committee released the following document on Tuesday, outlining the current preparations for the 2020/21 season. It is a work in progress (which will be updated here) with the committee inviting suggestions as David McNerney wrote in his preamble.

“As you know we have been furiously working in the LHA with Hockey Ireland to create some semblance of normality for the 2020/21 Hockey Season.

“To that end, we have produced a document that tries to gather together all the issues and mitigations we have in place, and to give you something to start working on going forward.

“Hopefully today we will be able to get a set of fixtures out based on the outline dates provided for “Plan A”.

“The document is open for comment and we would very much welcome any comments or questions. This is not a case of diktat from on high – this is a working process where we all (Boards. Committee, Clubs, Players etc) need to work towards delivering an effective 2020/21 Hockey Season.

“The document is not confidential or anything so do share it with your clubs. It’s going to require hard work and dedication to get there – and then hopefully we’ll come out better on the other side. At the end of the day, the health of our players is paramount.

“For clubs that may also have Ladies or Junior sections a similar document should be forthcoming. There will hopefully be some interactive calls over the next few weeks where we can discuss issues that anyone is having.”

***

This document is subject to on-going change. Please review it regularly!

In response to the imposition of the CoViD-19 actions within Ireland as a whole the following document describes the protocol that will be used for managing the 2020/21 season for Men’s Hockey.

This document is a work-in-progress and will be adapted as circumstances evolve – however, it is hoped that we will be able to maintain this stance for the full season. (Also, we are very very open to comments, suggestions, concerns etc, just “Insert/Comment” as you need).

The risks that have been identified thus far, that this document hopes to mitigate, are:

  • The resurgence of CoViD-19 and consequent further lockdowns on sports and life. Lockdowns may be full or limited and may be short or long in duration.
  • A new variant of CoViD-19 or other virus etc. emerging in early 2021.
  • Where hockey is played, it is envisaged that it will be under very strict controls.
  • The possibility that at any point in the season everything will shut down as in March 2020.
  • The lack of availability of pitches. In the weekly cycle this is a possibility with schools based pitches, either being heavily restricted or not available at all. For our highlight matches (e.g. cup final), we see limits on our prime site pitches, such as TRR/Grange Road.
  • The development of EYHL 2 as a full national league. CoViD-19 has done serious damage to the integrity of EYHL 2 and resulted in a number of unavoidable upsets, and has complicated the planning processes of Leinster. This has been seen by the Leinster Board, with the unequivocal support of most Leinster clubs, as a clear indicator that EYHL 2 needs to be separated from the provincial domain.

Please acquaint yourself with Hockey Ireland statement on CoViD-19: https://www.hockey.ie/news-detail/10064175/

Plans

The following options have been developed for the most likely scenarios. Only the first is fully detailed here as it is the current active option. The other 3 have been discussed internally and will be elaborated upon as it is seen necessary.

Important: Plan A is the current and hoped for solution here.

Plan A – Business as Usual (Mostly)

This is based on the assumption that for the most part Hockey can be played in much the same manner as in previous years – but with contingency in place for the likely risks.

The league tables are as follows:

D1: CL,RU,PO,RG,AV,KK,DN,DU,BR,WS
D2: TR,CO,MK,PW,GL,YM,CL,RU,AV,UC
D3: YM,TR,MK,PW,RG,NS,RU,WW,GL,ML
D4: NV,NK,EN,TR,CO,KK,PW,YM,AV,CL
D5: DU,WS,SU,BR,RU,RG,PW,TR,PO,JG
D6: WW,DN,MK,EN,YM,CO,DU,ML,TR,PO
D7: UC,BR,YM,NS,AV,WW,DN,PW

(Hopefully the short codes are obvious enough here)

The season will be divided into 4 distinct parts:

  1. League Part 1
  2. Indoor
  3. League Part 2
  4. Cups

These will be played in sequence. If for any reason a repeat of the 2020 season happens, then the current running and future parts will be voided but all previous completed parts will stand. (For example, if we are in the middle of “League Part 2” and we are locked down – then only “League Part 1” and “Indoor” will stand, and “League Part 2” and “Cups” will be voided). The existing Ranking Rules will apply to determine outcomes.

Cups will be played over a 4-5 week period at the end of the year, with the exception of the Neville Cup and the Mills Cup. The matches for these competitions will be scheduled for Sundays during the leagues.

The season will start on the 3rd October with a weekend of Cup matches – the finals from last season and the initial round of the Neville Cup and the Mills Cup. The season will finish on the 17th April. Matches will be scheduled to run every weekend with one break mid-way.

  • League Part 1 is from 11th October to 13th December (1 week break 1st November)
  • Indoor is from 13th December to 24th January
  • League Part 2 is from 24th January to 28th March (1 week break 21st March)
  • Cups will run from 22nd March to 18th April

Cup finals from this season and last season will be played at the home team’s ground (or an agreed alternative).

Plan B – Delayed Start

This is where we cannot start until November/December.

In this case, the Divisions will be reduced in size and less matches will be played.

All Cups from last season will be voided and this season’s cups will be reviewed.

Plan C – Severe Restrictions

This is where play is not possible until January/early February

The same league structure from Plan A will be used, but only one half of the fixtures will be played.

All Cups from last season will be voided and this season’s cups will be reviewed.

Plan D – Season Cancelled

The 2020/21 season is cancelled and no hockey is played until 2021/22.

This is self-explanatory, and would have dire consequences for Hockey in Ireland at National, Provincial and Club level.

Playing Format

A number of changes are being introduced to ensure the smooth running of the Hockey season (as best we can)

Reduced Team Size

The standard team size is 16 players.

We want to reduce the number of players in a playing group in order to limit the level of interpersonal contact. We also expect a reduced number of players as many players (especially in vulnerable groups) will have health concerns and we don’t want anyone to be pressurized into playing.

With this in mind the number of players that can be put out on a team will be reduced to 14. This does not apply to anyone playing in any non province competitions (such as EY1/2, Irish Cups etc).

Localized Lockdowns

Lockdowns local to specific counties or regions are likely.

If a club is in a county/region that is lockdown and therefore unable to play the following will apply:

  • For League Matches:
    • If another league match (i.e. the reverse fixture) is played by end of season, then this result will be used twice.
    • If not, points will be allocated pro-rata based on other matches played.
    • If 50% of matches are NOT played in ALL divisions, that part of the league will be voided.
  • For Cup Matches:
    • For the final, the match will be postponed (as per 2019/20 season)
    • For other matches, the team will be withdrawn and their fee refunded.

Postponements

The coming season must be run very very tightly – there is no room for the loose postponements regime that has existed in the past.

With this in mind the 22 day postponement rule will be replaced for Last Team Postponements. 

In future, a match may be postponed to the next day on request with an option to extend to 8 days on agreement between the two teams in line with existing postponement limits.

If a team still cannot manage to play a match a walkover will be granted, with the penalties from Bye-Law 3.5.2 (f). The first walkover in a fixture tie must be the home fixture (reverse the fixture as required). This only applies to “Last Teams”.

Matches may be played earlier on Friday nights by agreement. Clubs are encouraged to avail of this facility.

Start Times of Matches

Bye-Law 3.1.2 places limits on the start time of some matches. When the fixtures are created at the start of the season, for all matches covered by this Bye-Law, clubs must specify a start time.

If clubs do not set a start time, then the default will be set to 12:00. This will be the official start time.

Where conflicts exist as a consequence of this club will have to request a postponement.

Changes to Registration Team Size Parameters

In order to rationalize the operation of registration within Leinster Hockey it has been proposed to align the team sizes in Men’s Hockey with the team sizes in Ladies Hockey. That means 11 players on each team with no stars. This will not be finalized this year but initial steps will be made in this direction.

To this end:

EY1 teams currently have a squad size of 16 players with 3 stars. This will be reduced to 11 players with no stars. This does not mean the actual squad size for EY1 is reduced – just the number of players that are considered for Leinster registration. The effect of this is deemed to be minimal for two reasons: firstly, there is very little transfer between EY teams and Leinster teams even where starring allows that, and secondly the transfer for EY teams can really only be to Division 2 (see section on Division 2 Realignment later).

Division 1 teams currently have a squad size of 16 players with 5 stars. This will be reduced to 11 players with no stars. This is deemed to be a minimal change as having 16 players of which 5 can play for a lower team means 11 players cannot play down – with 11 players and no stars it is still the case that there are 11 players that cannot play down.

Division 2 teams currently have a squad size of 14 with 4 stars. This will be increased to 11 with no stars as per the other two divisions. This is clearly a minor imposition on these teams – however, they are all teams from large clubs with substantial player bases and it is presumed that they should be able to adapt. They will also have more players available from EY or D1.

All other Divisions remain as they are now.

Placeholders

This is not anything to do with CoViD risks but was an issue that was raised in the previous season and is now applied to registration.

A placeholder is a player in a registration who is listed on a team, but has not played any matches for any team in the club. This is clearly not valid for registration (though we don’t believe it is generally done intentionally).

These players are automatically moved to the end of the registration list. Once they play a match they will be moved back up.

Hockey Ireland Registration

For contact tracing purposes, being able to uniquely identify players is of vital importance. The Hockey Ireland registrations provide this exactly.

All registration secretaries are requested (this will become more forceful) to ensure that every player registered has a Hockey Ireland membership ID listed on their registration.

Membership IDs are validated against the Hockey Ireland database.

Shaking Hands

Eh… just no – do not shake hands or anything that involves direct contact.

Instead clap, wave or tap sticks.

Spectators

Hockey matches generally have a limited number of spectators. We would discourage spectators, if possible, but if they are present proper CoViD-19 protocols for the general public should be observed (specifically social distancing and mask wearing). Spectators should be as removed as possible from player areas (where the player area is on the same side as the spectators, the players should consider moving to the other side of the pitch).

2019/20 Cup Eligibility

The rules are being applied “as-if” this was March/April 2020. So if a player was eligible to play then they are eligible now.

This does allow for the slightly bizarre situation of the player not being eligible for their current club team, but being eligible to play for the opposition club team (if they wish). [If anyone is in this situation they should contact the LHA Mens Registration Secretary for clarification]

Division 2 Realignment

Division 2 causes serious problems for the Leinster leagues. There is no denying that the standard is necessarily higher than the surrounding divisions – the Neville Cup results clearly demonstrate this. Because of this, teams being relegated from Division 1 regularly request to be relegated to Division 3 instead of Division 2, and teams being promoted from Division 3 often decline the offer of promotion to Division 2. 

The structure/rules also allow us to promote from Division 3 to Division 1 – and in other years this is what has been done.

Division 2 this year has no 1st teams. This lack of promotion leads to a lack of competitiveness within Division 1 as the weaker teams are not culled and no stronger teams are promoted. There is also very little enjoyment where the teams in Division 2 are so disparate, either for the weaker or the dominant team. 

With the changes proposed for EY2 this situation is going to get worse, not better.

Given this the following change will be made:

Division 1 and Division 2 will be renamed to Division 1 Pool A and Division 1 Pool B (or 1A and 1B for short) respectively and will be considered equal. 1A can only have 1st teams, 1B can only have 2nd teams. EY2 teams will only come from Division 1 Pool A, for obvious reasons.

All other divisions will be moved up (Division 3 becomes Division 2,…. Division 7 becomes Division 6).

EYHL 2nds teams will be required to promote as normal from the new Division 2 (previously Division 3) to Division 1B. Non-EY 2nd teams will have the option of remaining in the new Division 2, if they do not feel up to the standard of Division 1B.

At the end of the season it is hoped to have a “Champions Cup” between the teams of Division 1A and 1B.

It is important to note that for the playing of games this makes no difference. It only affects how promotion of 1st teams is decided (and at that it’s just normalizing the de facto situation).

Given this change, the league structure from “Plan A” above is as follows:

D1 Pool A: CL,RU,PO,RG,AV,KK,DN,DU,BR,WS
D1 Pool B: TR,CO,MK,PW,GL,YM,CL,RU,AV,UC
D2: YM,TR,MK,PW,RG,NS,RU,WW,GL,ML
D3: NV,NK,EN,TR,CO,KK,PW,YM,AV,CL
D4: DU,WS,SU,BR,RU,RG,PW,TR,PO,JG
D5: WW,DN,MK,EN,YM,CO,DU,ML,TR,PO
D6: UC,BR,YM,NS,AV,WW,DN,PW

(Just name changes)

Adoption, Ambiguity and Adaptation

The LHA board will adopt these recommendations after the AGM as an extension of the Bye-Laws for the duration of the 2020/21 season for the Men’s Section. Any changes that will be made permanent will be presented at a future AGM.

There’s a lot of change here and with this kind of change it is always possible that mistakes can be made. With that in mind, if there is a problem that arises during the year, a club will be entitled to request a clarification from the LHA board without it being treated like an appeal. The Board’s decision will be final.

Equally, changes may have to be made during the season to deal with such mistakes, and unlike a normal season, the LHA Board reserves the right to make such changes in the interest of the organization – but it will do its best to be fair.

Partners of The Hook

smart-trainingSecurehost.ie