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Haverhill sports clubs and people give their reaction to the third national lockdown

It was an all-too-familiar situation facing the area’s sports clubs and providers once again this week as they were ordered to cease all activities for a third national lockdown in the fight against Covid-19.

Alarming infection rates, partly sparked by a significantly more transmissible strain, led the Government to prohibit all non-elite sport until at least mid-February and likely into March, bar an exemption for disabled participants.

Tier 4 restrictions, which came into force in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire on Boxing Day, had already halted adult team sports, including football and rugby.

All non-elite sport has halted
All non-elite sport has halted

But golf and tennis, as well as under-18s sport, had been able to resume following the November lockdown.

At Haverhill Tennis Club Robert Jeffs had only just restarted junior coaching since Christmas before having to shut down.

“We started back coaching on Monday and then obviously the lockdown was announced so we had to stop,” he said.

“The worse thing has been the stop-start nature of it all but we have been coaching all the times we have been allowed to.”

Through the club’s open Facebook page (search Haverhill Tennis Club) he had been posting online skills videos that people could do at home. And the club coach is doing a new series to keep people engaged.

Haverhill Golf Club had an empty course as of Tuesday, having been as busy as they were permitted to be over the festive period.

Michael Bruce only took over as general manager from the outgoing Matthew Bacon on December 1, as the club re-opened from the November lockdown.

He said: “The governing bodies; England Golf, the PGA and the R&A, had done so much to prove golf could continue in a safe manner. It could not really be a much safer form of exercise.

“We were already operating only two balls (playing with one other person) under Tier 4 and the clubhouse was not open.

“It is difficult. Hopefully England Golf and the others can put a good case study together to get us open as soon as possible.”

For Haverhill Rugby Club December had brought real hope their players could be back playing an adapted contact form of the 15-a-side game early in the new year, having been sidelined since March.

There were plans for them to play a mini-league season, to replace their abandoned full Eastern Counties Greene King Division 1 West campaign from January 23.

Haverhill’s players had been back in training in the run up to Christmas to prepare to play games against the likes of Cottenham Renegades, Cambridge III, Cantabrigian II, Shelford III and Mildenhall & Red Lodge.

But a meeting of the RFU competitions board on Monday decided to scrap the regionalised cluster league plans.

Haverhill captain Zac Evans said: “Obviously it is massively, massively disappointing but it’s not surprising.

“When the cluster leagues were announced I was surprised that was being put in place when the country had not yet been put back together.”

He admitted it had been tough to keep the players’ enthusiasm going but said there was a virtual event they were planning to do as a club to keep people going fit and in touch.

Under November’s national lockdown angling was the only sport allowed to continue but it emerged on Tuesday evening that it is no longer permitted and local waters were being closed as of yesterday.

While local football clubs such as Cambridge United and Ipswich Town can continue to play under their elite sport umbrella, all non-league football from Steps 3 downwards has been halted, now including U18s.

Read more: All the latest Suffolk sport news