Why Byron Rugby 7s blew the whistle on 2020 event
COVID-19 has thrown the Byron Bay 7s rugby tournament the ultimate hospital pass, with organisers this week confirming the October event was off.
With 10 teams already booked to play, and more than 46 expected to take part in the tournament overall, it's become another major North Coast casualty of the pandemic.
President of Byron Rugby Club Eddy Brown said the local rugby community was "devastated" the tournament could not proceed.
"We've been holding off, holding off trying to leave the decision for as long as we can," he said.
"Because of COVID, we have not been saying anything definitely, because everything appeared to be heading in the right direction nationally until the last couple of weeks.
"But because of the time it takes to organise the event, and teams getting together pending the restrictions, it gets to the point where there's too much stress for everyone and too many hoops to jump through.
"But we want to do the right thing and keep everyone safe.
"It's really devastating because everyone was really looking forward to it."
The Byron tournament has become popular among rugby teams, both here and overseas, wanting an end of season vacation and a little footy on the side.
Brown said ex-Wallabies player George Smith had been texting him over the past couple of weeks expressing his desire to come to the tournament and there has been an outpouring of comments on Facebook since the decision to cancel the tournament was posted this week.
"It's become a massive tournament in the last few years and you can really feel the energy growing in it," he said.
"Whether you are in business or sporting events like us, we all have to hope that things [COVID-19] right themselves by next year so things can get back to normal."