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Haverhill Rugby Club are looking up after an uncertain period




New sponsors, a new signing and training is back under way – it’s fair to say there is an element of positivity sweeping through Haverhill Rugby Club at present.

Like all clubs, the impact of Covid-19 has caused moments of uncertainty and worry down at Castle Playing Fields.

Indeed, the economic downturn caused by the pandemic saw Haverhill lose a sponsorship contract for the first team’s kit.

RUGBY - Haverhill v Sawston..Pictured: ...PICTURE: Mecha Morton. (36513515)
RUGBY - Haverhill v Sawston..Pictured: ...PICTURE: Mecha Morton. (36513515)

However, those fears have now been allayed by local company Wiki Windows, who have agreed a two-year deal, while Elite Property Maintenance will sponsor the second team’s kit next season.

“This helps us massively,” said first-team skipper Zac Evans. “We had a sponsor lined up but they had to pull out. It has been all hands on deck trying to find another and it is a godsend we have managed to do it.

“We are thankful to both Wiki Windows and Elite Property Management. To know we have their support is a big weight off the club’s shoulders.”

RUGBY: Mildenhall & Red Lodge v Haverhill Picture Mark Westley. (36802678)
RUGBY: Mildenhall & Red Lodge v Haverhill Picture Mark Westley. (36802678)

Someone that will be wearing those new kits next season is Dan Bennett, who has agreed to join Haverhill from Halstead Templars.

The lock has been a long-term target, with Evans delighted to have finally secured his services.

“Dan is a great player,” said Evans. “His partner and kid already play for the club, and we have been trying to get him involved for the last couple of seasons.

“He’s a loyal player and that is great, but he has thankfully bitten the bullet and decided to come over.

“He will be a fantastic addition to our squad.”

Meanwhile, Bennett and his new team-mates restarted training earlier this week.

Following the recent loosening of government restrictions, people from six different households are able to exercise together providing that the necessary social distancing guidelines are respected.

Haverhill have split their pitch into four segments, meaning up to 24 players can train at the same time.

And while a return to competitive action may still be a way off, Evans believes it is important to get the squad back together – both from a physical and mental point of view.

“The boys have been apart for two or three months so it is great to be able to get them back together,” he said. “We have had to put measures in place – things like marking out the pitch, installing an outside tap and making sure everything is kept clean – but it has not been too bad.

“The question was asked at a committee meeting about how constructive these sessions would be, especially with no matches and contact.

“But this a big thing, both for fitness and people’s mental health. We had a great season and there was a buzz at the club that hadn’t existed for a while – we don’t want to lose that.

“We have tried to keep spirits up with things like Zoom quizzes, but you cannot beat being together as a team.”

Evans is also hopeful that these training sessions will include some younger players.

The club is keen to start producing some of their own talent – a process that started just before the country went into lockdown.

The captain said: “We actually went down to Castle Manor School and four or five of the pupils were keen to come to training, but unfortunately everything stopped that same week.

“We want more colts and to have them training with us so they get into the club’s culture and how we like to play.

“We are not like Cambridge, Ipswich and Bury who have private schools not too far away, and they can source players from there.

“That hinders us slightly, but state schools are playing rugby more now and we are keen to keep in touch with all the schools in our area.

“Hopefully we will have some potential colts joining in over the coming weeks.”