Players ‘chomping at the bit’ at possible return despite league season being cancelled
- Credit: Archant
Wisbech chairman and director of rugby Leonard Veenendaal believes his players are “chomping at the bit” to return to action, despite their league season being cancelled.
The Rugby Football Union (RFU) decided to cancel the grassroots rugby season, including the London 3 Eastern Counties League which Wisbech play in, after a second coronavirus lockdown was enforced on November 5.
But although the RFU felt a competitive league season for grassroots clubs was no longer viable, it has considered the idea of ‘local clusters’ if contact rugby was able to return.
“We have put in so much work putting together a fantastic coaching team, built a very strong and exciting squad and had a good pre-season,” Veenendaal said.
“We notably increased our player base, which I strongly believe would have enabled us to field a very strong first, Wildcats and Vets team.
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“Coaches and players are extremely frustrated and we are finding it very challenging to keep it all together, but I am fairly confident we will play some kind of rugby this season.”
Under the ‘local clusters’ plan, clubs would be placed into groups of seven based on their location in a bid to ease travel time, where teams will neither be promoted or relegated.
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Games hope to take place in the new year, which aim to be based on full contact rugby or any adaptations in line with both government and RFU guidelines.
If the plans were finalised, Wisbech could also renew their rivalry with neighbours March Bears in the annual Jack Arch Cup, and although no decisions have been confirmed, Veenendaal believes any rugby is better than nothing.
“The major issue for us is if it is not full contact, what adapted variations we will be presented?” he said.
“There is no appetite amongst the players to play touch rugby or a format where the physicality is removed from the game.
“clubs will be free to arrange matches on an ad-hoc basis, so I believe it could work. The boys don’t care whether it is league or friendlies, they are chomping at the bit to play rugby.”
Veenendaal added: “Presented with the option of no rugby or playing in a more local competition, the benefits outweigh any possible disadvantages.
“Fingers crossed if we get to play rugby in the new year, we would embrace the opportunity to regroup as a squad and have some serious fun.”