The Rugby Football Union yesterday confirmed that it would be ending the 2019/20 season at all levels below the Premiership in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The rugby union campaign had initially been suspended until April 14 on Monday, but ‘all league, cup and county rugby in England’ has been cancelled by the governing body.

The move affects the four clubs in the south of the county who play in Cumbria Division One - Hawcoat Park, Furness, Millom and Windermere - and means their seasons have come to an end with six weeks of it remaining.

The RFU also stated a further update would be given in April as they aim to ‘ensure fair and balanced outcomes,’ presumably in relation to promotions and relegations.

Hawcoat are unaffected by this, as they finished sixth in the table and their chairman John Horne wasn’t surprised by the RFU’s decision.

He said: “There was the uncertainty of trying to extend the season, but they were talking about it being 12 weeks until this settles down, so you take 12 weeks from now and you’re in June and July.

“You’ve then got lads who double up and play rugby league and then take holiday, but to be honest sport comes down in the pecking order, in terms of what’s going on at moment.

“I think it’s the sensible thing to do so people know where they are, in all honesty.”

As well as the Cumbria League, the RFU’s decision has cancelled this year’s County Championship, in which Cumbria have twice reached the final of the Plate competition in recent seasons.

Our teams have often struggled to field competitive sides in away games this season and don’t have a huge amount of players to call upon in the first place.

In what are now the final standings, Windermere came second-from-bottom, with Millom coming ninth and Hawcoat’s near neighbours Furness tenth.

Fortunately, Furness president John Mallinson doesn’t see the season’s cancellation having too great a financial impact on the Strawberry Grounds club.

He said: “It will have an impact because it will obviously affect our income, although to be fair our outgoings won’t be that significant.

“But we will still have them and we will have absolutely no money coming in at all because we rely entirely on what we take over the bar and what we get in sponsorship.

“Because there’s no games there’s no sponsorship, or money over the bar, and there’s stock we’ll need to get rid of, so there will be a financial impact, but it’s an impact we can withstand.”