Frequently asked questions for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 season are below.

Term 1 Leagues and Competitions 2020-21 questions

Before competing in the Term One Opt-in Competition do we need to follow current NGB advice for our sport?

NGB guidance should be checked before each BUCS fixture during Term One. Each sport will be subject to any National Governing Body rules, regulations and guidance in relation to COVID-19 in place at the time. Such rules, regulations and guidance may change during the competition. These shall supersede any BUCS General or Sport Specific Regulations.

What if we have not entered a team and would like to be part of the Term One Opt-in Competition post BUCS Play publication on Friday 2 October?

The BUCS Competitions team will attempt to integrate this team into the Term One Competition where possible. The successful entry of this team will depend on demand in that region.  If you wish to enter a team, please email this request through to

What if we have entered the Term One Opt-in Competition but now feel we are not ready/are unable to play?

Should an institution/Playing Entity wish to withdraw a team they may do so at any stage with no penalty by e-mailing with this request, as well as contacting all other teams in the competition  to inform them of this withdrawal. However, if it is a case that you may feel ready/be able to play at a later date, then you can keep a team in and begin arranging fixtures at that point.

What happens if we can’t fulfil a fixture?

The Term One Opt-in Competition is intended to be a flexible offer and as such there shall be no penalties if fixtures do not take place due to current restrictions and/or concerns around competing. Any fixtures not played will go down as void – there shall be no walkovers. How many matches a team plays (up to twice against each team) will be at the discretion of the institution. We will have the programme open for eight weeks and fixtures can be played on any day during those weeks.

What if we have been placed in a competition where we feel the distance to travel to some opposition is too far based on current NGB/Government advice?

The team in question should follow the NGB/Government guidance and not travel to the fixture in question. The Term One Competition is run as a friendly competition in which you can play as many or as few games as you wish/feel comfortable to do so. There is no penalty for not completing the fixtures.

If we feel we are in a competition with a team that may be considered a much higher standard than ourselves, what do we do?

The Term One Competition has been populated with teams of a similar level/standard within the standard BUCS competitions structure. BUCS would advise institutions discuss the relative strength of their teams before a fixture is scheduled. Some institutions have chosen to only enter their 3/4/5 teams into this competition, but due to naming conventions on BUCS Play are listed as the 1/2/3 teams.

If we enter our 2nd and 3rd team, will this be displayed like this on BUCS Play or will it change to 1st and 2nd team?

Due to naming conventions on BUCS Play teams will always be listed in numerical order 1/2/3 etc. Please see question 6 which relates to confirming team strength before a fixture.

What rules/regulations should we be following?

The Compliance and Governance team have produced a new regulation, REG 0, that will govern the Term One Opt-in Competition. This regulation details which other regulations intuitions should also be following. REG 0 can be found on the BUCS website in the Rules and Regulations section under General Regulations.

Do all participants have to be on BUCS Play?

The BUCS Executive would encourage all participants to register and join their respective teams. The reasoning for this is detailed below in the following question. 

Do we need to use team sheets during Term One fixtures?

BUCS would strongly encourage institutions to use these for the Term One fixtures. The maximum number of people allowed on each team sheet on BUCS Play has been set at 100. BUCS recommends placing onto the team sheet every individual who is travelling to/attending the fixture with, or as part of the team, to assist with Track and Trace if any issues occurred.

What happens if we cancel a fixture we have arranged?

The BUCS Executive recommends that institutions communicate in good time and effectively whilst facilitating both the administration of fixture completion and/or the cancellation of said fixture. The Term One Opt-in Competition is intended to be a flexible offer and as such there shall be no penalties if fixtures do not take place due to current restrictions and/or concerns around competing.

When can we play?

The window for Term One fixtures begins on Monday 5 October, the last date fixtures may be played is Wednesday 16 December. Teams may choose to organise fixtures on any given day/date within that period pending agreement of the opposition. These fixtures will be moved via Fixture Change Requests on BUCS Play.

What if we have not been placed in a group?

Unfortunately, due to a lack of demand at various tiers in certain regions, not all teams have been placed into groups. BUCS have produced an ‘Active Teams’ list that includes all of these teams that was released with these FAQs. This provides an opportunity for teams to identify potential opponents out with the BUCS term one offer and to work with your administrator to organise fixtures.

Can we ‘Play Under Protest’ or submit an Appeal if we encounter issues at a fixture?

The playing under protest and appeals regulations have been suspended for Term One fixtures. Please see question 9 about which rules & regulations should be followed.

My sport has a competition, but we are not currently permitted to play under current guidance, what do we do?

If the NGB/Government advice changes on which sports can/can’t be played this advice should always be followed in the first instance. If that guidance/advice prohibits sport from taking place no fixture should be played. Please see question 1 for more information.

Will there be any reward for the Term One competition? E.g. Trophy/BUCS recognition

BUCS General Regulation 6 will be suspended during this Term One competition. Therefore, there will be no reward/recognition during Term One.

Can the level of teams be more flexible based on how much students are taking part? (Ie. Some weeks there may not be enough to field one team so a 1st team player may have to play in the 2s).

BUCS Regulation 11 is suspended for Term One competition (see question Do all participants have to be on BUCS Play?). Therefore, there is not the same level of restrictions on player movement as in a standard BUCS season. Teams are encouraged to treat the competition in a fair and respective manner and confirm the relative strength of their team before the fixture (see question If we feel we are in a competition with a team that may be considered a much higher standard than ourselves, what do we do? ).

Is there any connection between Term One and Term Two Programme?

Term One and Term Two will operate as two separate entities. The results from Term One will not have any impact on the Term Two competition.

What is the status of sport specific affiliations?

The BUCS Executive are working through sport specific affiliations to ensure that they are updated and ready to be issued ahead of the start of the BUCS league and knockout programme. Where an affiliation or membership is needed to compete, this will involve a hard deadline of the first official BUCS competition/fixture date. However, we advise clubs to take out affiliations in team sports as they normally would to ensure they can take advantage of the support provided by NGBs. These sports are:

  • American Football
  • Basketball
  • Fencing
  • Football & Futsal
  • Lacrosse
  • Rugby League
  • Ultimate
  • Volleyball

Events 2020-21 season questions

What happens if a local lockdown is imposed on an area where competitors are travelling from a few days before an event?

If a local lockdown is imposed on a region in the UK, government guidelines should be followed in that area and competitors should only travel when permitted to do so. In the case that individuals cannot travel due to lockdown, entry fees will not be charged.

Can I withdraw from an event after entry if I no longer want to attend?

We are currently reviewing our entry and withdrawal policies in light of Covid-19. We will be consulting further with institutions in due course.

Have you considered virtual events?

Yes. We are exploring this for certain sports. For example, the indoor rowing series will be virtual this year.

How can I keep up to date regarding the status of events?

There is up to date information on the sport and event page of the website. Students who enter an event on BUCS Play and institution administrators will receive direct email communications with key updates.

What happens if a local lockdown is imposed on an event venue?

Each situation will be reviewed individually, and the BUCS Events Team and stakeholders will assess whether the event is feasible and safe to run. In the event of a full local lockdown in the area of the event venue it would be anticipated the event would be cancelled.

What if the situation worsens from entry opening to event date?

The event could be cancelled or postponed but we will endeavour to provide as much notice as possible.

When will events open and close for entry?

Please see specific event information for details of event opening and closing dates. Events will likely open and close earlier than usual.

When will we know about events under review?

We plan to release an update on these in October

Why are some events cancelled and not others?

Some events are less viable than others due to their nature, their size, their time of year or their practical feasibility. We have tried where possible to postpone events to later in the year however this has not been possible for all events.

Why is the calendar provisional?

Each event has been worked through against current guidelines however it is still unknown as to whether the national situation will worsen or improve.  We will be regularly reviewing this and will confirm a minimum of 6 weeks out from each event date whether entries will open.

Will I be charged if the event is cancelled due to Covid19?

No. If the event is completely cancelled, and no alternative is offered you will not be charged your entry fee.

Are events happening?

Yes – the plan is to run events next season where they are feasible, safe to deliver and there is demand. Our 2020-21 event calendar is now live.

Leagues and Competitions 2020-21 questions

What is the process for 2020-21 Team Entries?

BUCS team entries opened on 5 June and will close on 16 October 2020. We are planning to commence the 2020-21 season in January 2021. See here for more information.

What about LUSL?

League and Knockout
After consultation with institutions and the management group, the decision has been made to postpone the start of the LUSL league and knockout activity until term 2. The team entry window will open and run alongside the BUCS team entry process, starting from stage 2 on July 24th. 

Events and Additional Activity
We will aim to deliver a LUSL events programme in Term 1. We will look to keep all LUSL Members actively engaged throughout the upcoming season and are exploring a variety of options to provide as much additional activity as possible. All events will be evaluated to ensure that they are safe, feasible and have demand from the students.

What is happening with international events?

The Winter World University Games (WUGs) scheduled for Lucerne in January 2021 have been postponed. Further information is available on the FISU website.

The Summer World University Games (WUGs) still plan to be held in August 2021 in Chengdu, China. BUCS is working with our partner organisations in preparation for attendance at these Games. Further information is available on the Summer WUGs pages.

BUCS have received confirmation from FISU of the cancellation of all World University Championships in 2020. A full list and further information is available on the World University Championships pages.

The European University Games (EUG) scheduled for Belgrade in July 2020 have been postponed until 2021. Further information is available on the EUSA Games pages. Qualification for the rearranged Games will come through performance in the 2020-21 season. Qualification details will be released in due course.

Why is there no promotion or relegation in 2020-21?

There won’t be any promotion or relegation at the end of the 2020-21 season. Instead we will be using the finishing positions (i.e promotion and relegation) from the end of the 2019-20 season, to determine what leagues teams play in for 2021-22.

We anticipate a reduction in team entries based on the feedback we have received from the membership. This means that the existing competition programmes and structures are likely to change quite significantly for the 2020-21 season. Therefore, a conversation with members was needed to discuss whether 2020-21 would reflect a new programme, or whether 2020-21 would be an interim offering that enabled us to offer competition with a view to returning to the existing programme in 2021-22.

Promotion and relegation are mechanisms to move teams between tiers to provide the most appropriate level of competition each season. With a significant reduction in team entries expected, teams may find themselves pulled up into higher tiers next year. Utilising the 2019-20 standings as a blueprint for 2021-22 provides the best method to continue the existing programme; which has been shaped by promotion and relegation over many seasons. Our decision to not apply promotion and relegation based on the 2020-21 season is due to how different leagues are likely to look, and the condensed nature of the season that could increase the likelihood of relegation for teams (with a reduced number of spare weeks in the calendar the rearrangement of any missed fixtures would be much more difficult than in normal seasons).

There will be a number of institutions unable to enter the same number of teams next year (of which your institution may or may not be one), and difficult choices will have to be made around which entries are made and which are not. It is our aim to support those institutions with a pathway to returning to ‘normality’ in 2021-22. A number of clubs will have spent years developing their programmes, and so we feel it is our responsibility to support our members in the best way we can, for the long-term health of HE sport.

It will be an understandable frustration for a number of teams that finishing top of their league in the coming year will not see them move up a tier for 2021-22. For teams that are not able to enter the 2020-21 season due to events outside of their control, eliminating promotion and relegation will allow them to return in a more positive 2021-22 season, at the tier that is most appropriate for them. The alternatives which were considered were; to allow them to enter at the bottom of the system, to allow them to re-enter and have larger leagues in 2021-22, or to allow them to re-enter and not honour promotion and relegation in those leagues. All of these options presented more disruption and potentially more confusion in both the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons.

If my institution can’t enter a team in 2020-21, will they have to start in the bottom tier in 2021-22?

One of the reasons we agreed to suspend promotion and relegation in 2020-21 is to support those clubs and teams who, through no fault of their own, will not be able to enter for the coming season.

If your institution maintains its annual affiliation (its membership to BUCS) in 2020-21, any teams not entered next season will be able to return at the same tier in 2021-22.

How will the 2020-21 leagues be created?

The 2020-21 league team entry process is currently live and will run according to the decisions outlined in this document. In the meantime, we are generating draft leagues for all sports based on the 2019-20 season, with promotion and relegation applied according to this document.

When the final stage of entries closes on Friday 16 October, we will remove any teams not entered in 2020-21 and add any new teams at the bottom of the relevant leagues. Leagues will then be reviewed and amended to allow an equitable number of matches across the various tiers, where this is possible. A Provisional League Document will be published on Friday 30 October.

How will the 2021-22 leagues be created?

As 2020-21 will be an 'extraordinary’ season, the 2021-22 league structure will be based on the outcome of the 2019-20 season – with promotion and relegation applied according to this document – for teams in institutions who affiliate to BUCS in 2020-21.

Any institution who is not a member of BUCS for the 2020-21 season will be treated as a new member for the 2021-22 season and their teams will enter the league structure at the bottom.

How are BUCS going to reward and recognise league winners in 2020-21?

Reward and recognition tools used by BUCS include medals, trophies, league plaques, national rankings, and social media coverage. We are working with our Student Advisory Group and our Sport Review Implementation Group to look at what reward and recognition should look like in 2020-21. Our aim is to still provide competitive opportunities and ensure we recognise achievement as best we can. We believe there is actually an opportunity to use next season to look at ways to celebrate achievement better and improve the reward and recognition teams receive.

2019-20 Season

What happened with leagues and knockouts for the 2019-20 season?

Following member feedback and discussions with BUCS Advisory Group, National Competitions Group and the Senior Managers Executive, it was decided to end the league and knockout season as it stood at 18 March 2020 and to apply promotion and relegation where possible based on the tables at this date. See here for more detail.

What happened with domestic sports events for the 2019-20 season?

All events due to take place after 18 March 2020 were cancelled.

What happened to the BUCS Points table for the 2019-20 season?

Following discussions with the Advisory Group, Senior Managers Executive and National Competitions Group, BUCS Points will be voided for the 2019-20 season. Further information is outlined in Decision 8 here.


What does ‘Return to Play’ mean?

Normally we use the summer months to review our programmes, via our National Competitions Group, to identify opportunities to develop and improve our delivery ahead of the new season.

Unfortunately, the landscape we are currently facing is one of uncertainty and planning for delivery as usual has not been possible. Instead we are finding the best solutions to the new challenges we are facing.

‘Return to Play’ is the name we have given to the consultation and planning process we are currently undertaking, in preparation for the 2020-21 season.

Who has BUCS consulted before making any decisions before next season? / How were the decisions about return to play made?

We have spent the last few weeks consulting with hundreds of staff and students from across our member universities and colleges. This culminated in specific Return to Play Consultation video calls, with over 110 institutions taking part in those discussions alone.

The Return to Play consultations, Senior Manager Network meetings, regions and nations meetings, and utilisation of BUCS Advisory Group sessions have all been focussed on trying to fully understand the challenges that are being factored into planning at an institutional level for next year. We have learnt that institutions are facing unprecedented challenges around finance and resource, and universities are doing their best to find solutions to still deliver a worthwhile experience for students.

Examples of these challenges are the use of sports halls for non-sport activities, capacity to hold multiple Wednesday afternoon fixtures on one site, practicality of using public transport or coaches to travel, clashes with academic timetabling and enrolment of students in both returning and new classes to join sports clubs.

This list is not exhaustive but is designed to give a flavour of the scale of the challenge the HE sector is facing. If you are a student wanting to know more about the challenges your institution is facing we would suggest contacting your university sport department directly.

How can members ensure they receive communications from BUCS?

We provide regular updates to members through our website and email. To ensure you receive email updates, please create or activate your MyBUCS account and whitelist as a sender. If you have any questions about this, please contact

How can I contact BUCS staff?

The BUCS office is closed until further notice and several staff are on furlough leave. You can contact staff who continue to work via their email address on the staff section of MyBUCS, which also shows which staff are on furlough leave. If you are unsure who to contact, please email us at Unfortunately, at this time, the landline office phone numbers will not be answered.

As a student, how can I influence the decisions being made by BUCS?

Our advice to anyone who feels that they have not yet had an opportunity to engage in the Return to Play process, is to discuss this with their sport department within their institution; as there may be other factors influencing decision making internally. This can be a member of staff or Sabbatical Officer. Our consultation is still underway, and we want to include as many people on that journey as possible.

What if I am a new student wanting to play in BUCS Competition for the first time in 2020-21?

You should contact the sport department of the institution you are intending to join, and directly discuss with them what opportunities will be offered within their sport programmes next year.


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