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Haverhill Rugby Club disappointed with potentially not returning to action until 2021

Haverhill captain Zac Evans admits it is a big blow to learn they face not getting back to competitive action until next year.

The club had been riding the crest of a wave after being promoted to Eastern Counties 1 West, Level 9 in the Rugby Football Union (RFU) system, following their 2019/20 Covid-19 curtailed season.

The club captain had reported how training had been going well over the last month with strong numbers turning out to take part in the small group no-contact sessions twice a week.

Haverhill Rugby Club players take part in socially distanced small group training (38456130)
Haverhill Rugby Club players take part in socially distanced small group training (38456130)

They were hopeful of being able to start their new season, all being well, in October in line with other clubs in the area.

But a re-look at the Rugby Football Union’s competition models has brought it to light that for Level 7 of the RFU pyramid and below, who play in eight-team leagues, they are not in line to return until January.

And although that would be with home and away matches against every team, it is a best case scenario on a three-window system, with the other dates being at the end of February and March with reduced fixtures.

It presents a situation Evans does not feel is fair to his club at a time when they are trying hard to expand their offering to the community, including local schools, with a new second XV.

“It is awfully frustrating and it is a massive difference in terms of having to wait another three months or so. And I think it will affect us quite significantly,” he said.

“Sudbury (Level 7), for example, are just down the road and so are Cambridge (Level 3) and they can happily get on with things (possibly in October).

“Just because we play a little bit of a lower level of rugby we seem to be being penalised.”

He added: “Knowing we have no games coming up makes it harder to attract new players.

“We are looking to push new players and youth and it is not really much of a carrot to dangle when they can go down the road and play for the likes of Sudbury, Cambridge or Shelford.”

Evans also said they will have to look at possibly reducing the amount of training they are doing in the meantime.

But on the plus side, he said it was good to see the club open again on Saturday with the bar operating after investment was made in setting up more outside seating.

“It was really nice to see the players and supporters at the club again,” he said.

“We have had to work hard and spend a lot of money to set it all up and we may not get much of a return on that investment but it is about getting people back together.”

The bar will continue to be open from 7pm Fridays and 2pm Saturdays.