Haverhill Rugby Club cautiously optimistic as they plot a return
The recent past has taught them to tread with caution, but excitement is starting to brew at Haverhill Rugby Club.
Grassroots rugby has been one of the hardest hit sports by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Clubs have not been able to play competitive fixtures since last March, with at least two plans to return to action subsequently aborted.
The most recent of those was in December when teams were allowed to step up contact in training and begin to arrange fixtures, only for January’s lockdown to put paid to those plans.
However, with team sport being set to return on March 29 as part of the government’s Roadmap out of Lockdown – and the vaccine being rolled out at an impressive rate – there is optimism that the facilities at Haverhill’s School Lane base will once again soon be in use.
Incremental adapted contact training – without scrums and mauls – is the first step on the RFU’s plans to get clubs out of hibernation on the aforementioned March date, followed by a string of further additions until April 26, when the hope is matches will be allowed between clubs under adapted laws.
Haverhill are unlikely to play any matches this side of the summer, but captain Zac Evans is still looking forward to getting the group back together.
“We will get going as soon as possible,” he said. “We usually train on Tuesdays so our first one back is going to be March 30.
“We’ll start by running two sessions a week, one on a Tuesday and then the other on Saturdays.
“The motivation had started to dip in the group because it’s been very stop-start the last 12 months, but now there is some light at the end of the tunnel there is a real buzz around the club again.
“I doubt we’ll play any matches before the summer but it will be great just to get everyone back together, get everyone’s fitness up and work on the conditioning.
“We don’t have to start with contact straight away if we don’t want to because there are no immediate matches to prepare for – that is something we can phase back in later.
“I think people are more wary this time because we’ve had hopes high (of a return) before, but we will take it as it comes.
“Things look to be going the right though. Hopefully it’s going to be a huge step, both for fitness and people’s mental health.”
While the club is not planning for any spring fixtures, they are likely to line up some summer friendlies earlier than normal ahead of the 2021/22 campaign getting under way.
Having gone so long without any proper contact, Evans believes the players will need some extra preparation time out on the pitch.
He added: “The majority of the players have played rugby all their lives and so we’re prepared for it. We know what it takes and what it does to the body.
“But we’ll probably sort out extra friendlies, maybe starting around July time.
“You can do as much contact training as you like, you’re never going to hit your blokes as hard as the other team’s players.
“We wouldn’t want to rush the lads into a league season with only one or two games beforehand.
“Everyone is in the same boat so I’m sure there will be a lot of friendlies available.”