RUGBY competitions will take a new format in Scotland this year.

Scottish Rugby has announced that the national and regional divisions will be suspended for 2020/21 as the sport adapts to the coronavirus pandemic.

Fixtures are expected to be published at some point after the Scottish Government’s lockdown update on Thursday (September 10), but no later than September 16.

Scottish Rugby president Ian Barr said: “We have listened and applied the principles of fairness and consistency throughout to develop a blended model of competition which we believe provides the right solution to the challenges we face.”

The new format was announced on Friday (September 4) through a press release from Scottish Rugby.

The press release said the new structure was developed following consultations with clubs and schools.

Rugby faces “exceptional circumstances and challenges” because of the pandemic, according to the press release.

A Scottish Rugby spokesperson said: The [Scottish Rugby] Board has suspended the National and Regional Competitions for one season, and has authorised a separate series of competitions designed to support teams returning to the field to play against neighbours, local rivals or smaller clusters of teams.

“The competitions vary slightly from one another and take account of the feedback received from the clubs, teams and players involved, as well as the Scottish Rugby Council’s recommendations.

“The Tennent’s Premiership with National League Division 1, and National League Division 2 with National League Division 3 teams, will be split across two competitions culminating in three finals at BT Murrayfield.

“The Women’s Tennent’s Premiership and Women’s National League Division 1 teams will participate in a single competition, which will also culminate in two finals at BT Murrayfield.

“Men’s and Women’s Regional Division teams will participate in a series of regional or local competitions.”

The spokesperson added: “Boys’ and girls’ schools and youth rugby will also be different as we support young players’ return to the game, and this will continue to be supported by Mitsubishi Motors.

“Following confirmation of the competition formats, work is now under way to finalise the fixture schedule and underlying competition rules.

“Any club wishing to discuss the season structure further should make initial contact with their respective [Scottish Rugby] Council representative.”

Scottish Rugby says it expects competitive play will return on October 31, but the body adds that the date is indicative and subject to change.

Mr Barr, Scottish Rugby’s president, added: “On behalf of the [Scottish Rugby] Council I’d like to thank everyone from across the game who shared their views and insight to enable us to have a clear competition structure at every level, reaching the whole country, for rugby to resume when safe to do so.”