01:00PM, Friday 02 October 2020
Maidenhead RFC are trying to be ‘as close to normal’ as it’s possible to be in the current circumstances, according to club chairman Steve Bough.
Maids had been hoping the new league season might kick off as early as November, but the RFU said on Thursday last week saying that with COVID-19 infections on the rise competitive action would be held off until January at the earliest.
The news was a frustration to a club that’s been ahead of the curve in terms of getting its players back to training in a COVID secure way, but Bough says it will be ‘happy days’ if their London & South East Premier Division campaign does kick off as planned early in the new year.
In the past few weeks, they’ve also been able to put on fun and competitive 10’s touch competitions at Braywick Park in front of supporters.
There are similar tournaments planned for the colts, the women’s teams, and the Berkshire Unicorns to mark Gay Pride.
“I’ve been speaking with the RFU on various bits and pieces and there was a hit that we might be able to get back into it in November,” said Bough.
“But in our heart of hearts it wasn’t something we were pinning our hopes on. For a while now we’ve been thinking if we start in January then happy days. Mobbs (David Mobbs-Smith) is right in saying we’ve been planning a month ahead of every stage of the RFU process.
“While we’re not ready to do full contact yet, we’ve been ahead of the curve. If they’d said November, we would have been ready. It’s frustrating but the ‘ready for rugby’ tournaments we’ve been holding have just put a smile on everyone’s faces. It’s competitive but in a nice format.
“We’ve got some of our youth age groups back now as well and we’ve been using the seniors as guinea pigs for getting the rest back to training and tournaments. We’re doing everything we can within the rules, everyone is smiling, it’s a bit of a cliché but it’s about mental wellbeing, fresh air and everyone seems to be having a great time.”
The ready for rugby tournaments have given the players something to think about other than training and have been great for their fitness and sharpness, according to Bough.
He says they’ve also improved the social well-being of the players and supporters, allowing them to feel a sense of normality on a Saturday afternoon once again.
There have also been challenges with rolling the training programme out to the colt sides, but Bough praised the players, parents and coaches for their willingness to adapt to comply with COVID-19 protocols.
“It’s as much about social wellbeing,” said Bough.
“The bar has been open during the events and on Sundays.
“There’s no way the bar can be as busy as it usually is, but people want to come in and have a drink and a chat after training.
“It’s all tables of six and the members have been fantastic really. We’re trying to be as close to normal as we’re allowed to be.
“We’ve also used the same training protocols with the youth sides, but that’s obviously a much bigger job with all the parents and grandparents who also come along.
But we managed to finalise all of that and then handed it over to the age group managers and they were fantastic. They’ve all got to fill in their rules form, and everyone fills in a COVID symptoms form and they’ve done it fantastically.
“They’re really enjoying it. The frustration will come when they’ve been doing it a while and you’re trying to come up with something that allows for a little bit more than core skills and basic skills.
Little videos have also been sent of what the seniors are doing, games and skill sets, rugby tennis, little snapshots that give all the other coaches ideas to make training more fun, and that’s the key thing for the youth. It’s all about them getting down there, throwing the ball around and having some fun.
“But we still look forward to the light at the end of the tunnel, and when it comes, I think we’ll be very ready for it.”
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