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Newmarket Rugby Club looking forward to making a return to competitive action after lengthy Covid-19 break

After a long 18 months, Newmarket Rugby Club are finally gearing up for a return to competitive action.

Rugby at a grassroots level has been one of the hardest hit sports by the Covid-19 pandemic, with no league action having been possible due to restrictions since March 2020.

However, the wait will come to an end on Saturday when promoted Newmarket host Ipswich YM in a London 3 Eastern Counties season opener at their Scaltback base (3pm).

Much of the squad from a couple of seasons ago remain with the club. Picture: Mark Westley
Much of the squad from a couple of seasons ago remain with the club. Picture: Mark Westley

Head coach Martyn Wall said: “It’s fairly obvious we’ve all missed it and there has been a build up to this match for the last few months.

“It’s all been a bit stop-start. We’ve been able to do certain things in training and dipped our toe in a little bit, but there have been limitations.

“It’s also been frustrating to see other sports back to normal for quite a while, although I do understand our sport is very much contact dependent.

“The positive is we’ve had very strong numbers at training, which is encouraging, and nobody has fallen away.

“We’ve been working hard and now everybody is ready to unleash that at the weekend.”

While no play was possible last term, Newmarket were nevertheless promoted from the Greene King IPA Eastern Counties 1 Shield as part of the Rugby Football Union’s formula to finalise league tables from the 2019/20 campaign.

And while the enforced break has been far from ideal, Wall is confident that the momentum from recent success remains.

He added: “On a personal level this is my first crack at tier eight, so it’s a fresh challenge in that respect.

“We’re excited to see what we can do and there is a real hunger to see if we can establish ourselves at this level.

“That is the challenge and I’m confident we’ve got the players do it.

“We played Wisbech (same league) in a friendly recently and won that 41-19, so that was very encouraging.

“We’ve got a young and hungry squad that are still buzzing from what we’ve previously achieved.

“We want to use that going forward to make sure the future still looks bright.

“The team was on the way up before it all came crashing down because of Covid, but it’s a similar squad and so there is still plenty of momentum.”

Wall also revealed that Newmarket are planning to run a second team this season.

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