GARY Reynolds, CEO of Rams RFC, believes the chance to play any form of rugby before the end of the season would be ‘brilliant’ for those involved in the sport, writes Richard Ashton.
No competitive action outside the ‘elite’ level has been played since last March, and despite the best efforts of the NCA to organise an alternative National Cup to replace the cancelled leagues, that too has fallen by the wayside due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
However, in recent weeks there have been signs of improvement with cases and hospitalisations reducing, while the Government has received credit for its mass vaccination programme, which surpassed 15m last weekend.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to unveil his roadmap out of lockdown on Monday (February 22), and with friendlies potentially able to take place up until the end of May, Reynolds says it would be a real boost to the players and morale in society in general.
He revealed: “The squad are gagging at the bit to get out and play some rugby and I desperately hope we can do it before the end of the season.
“I think it would be brilliant to get the boys out on the pitch, playing hopefully a great game and local derby or two under the new lights and have the chance to meet up with some of our supporters and opposition supporters and have a great time.
“The guys have been brilliant and we were very fortunate to invest in a good outdoor gym facility which means we’ve had full capabilities to keep our boys fit when we’ve been able to during the last year.
“They’ve also been brilliant in terms of the support they’ve given to others throughout the club.
“As a rugby club, we are extremely proud of how engaged our first team is with its community.”
Plans have been put in place to make changes to the community structure in future with fewer teams in the National Leagues, along with more localised competitions further down the pyramid.
Reynolds believes something needs to be done, stating: “There’s a lot of uncertainty as to what the structures will look like – there’s been stacks of publicity about the financial problems in the Premiership and Championship.
“I think the RFU are working really hard to see how they can help the game open up positively with some new ideas coming through and possible new league structures from 2022/23.”
However, while the hope of a brighter future may be coming onto the horizon, he was adamant of who deserves the most credit closer to home.
He concluded: “We’ve been incredibly fortunate because other sports clubs have suffered much more than us.
“But we’ve got a superb group of volunteers through all the sections and they make Rams what it is. They love being part of it, but they are also what make it.”