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Pattinson: 'Grassroots clubs will struggle to keep players committed amid season setback'

With grassroots rugby in England not due to return until at least January 2021, Windsor RFC head coach Jack Pattinson believes clubs will struggle to keep their players committed to the sport.

Under Government regulation, the RFU made the decision in September that, with the exception of Premiership, Championship and Premier 15s, no competitive rugby will be played before the new year.

Currently locked in ‘Stage D’ of the return-to-rugby roadmap, clubs at grassroots level have been unable to resume their normal standard of training with full contact off limits until the next phase is approved.

Having started their pre-season preparations in July, Windsor RFC were hoping to begin the new campaign on time. But following the season’s setback, Pattinson has reasons for concern.

“I think the game is going to lose players,” said the head coach.

“What is the purpose of just training if you’re not going to play for months?

"It seems like we’re just training for nothing and there seems to be no sight of when we can actually play competitively.

“Our main focus at Windsor has been to keep people engaged with the club and we’ve done a brilliant job so far. Everyone has put in an incredible effort.

“However, I am mindful that in a month’s time, without any sign of games, the sport is still going to be in trouble and we will have to fight to keep people and players involved.

“We’re an organic club and we don’t pay our players to play for Windsor. They are at Windsor because they want a high quality experience, they love playing with their mates and it’s for the love of the sport.

"I think we’ll come through this quite well but it doesn’t mean we can just relax. It’s still a graft every week to keep people engaged and provide worthwhile training sessions.”

Having seen football return to competitive action, Pattinson admits to feeling a little aggrieved rugby across all levels hasn’t received similar treatment.

“All of these other sports have got competitive league games going on and we’re just playing casual matches of touch between ourselves,” added Pattinson.

“I do appreciate there’s more contact in rugby than football but at some point it’s got to be recognised that this [setback] is really bad for the long-term health of the sport.”

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