Post area clubs react to RFU's decision to cancel 2019/20 season

Thursday 26th March 2020 9:22 am

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ALL three Post area rugby union clubs believe the RFU’s decision to call an early halt to the 2019/20 season due to the Coronavirus situation is the correct one.

All league, cup and county rugby besides the Gallagher Premiership has been affected, while the decision is in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, with Twickenham keen to ‘assist with long-term planning and provide clarity to the game at a time of continuous change’.

The RFU says it will ensure ‘fair and balanced outcomes’ for the game and communicate these by the middle of April.

Thankfully for Launceston, Bude and Camelford, all three are outside of the promotion or relegation spots, meaning once the 2020/21 season eventually gets underway, they are likely to remain in the same divisions.

South West Premier side Launceston, better known as the Cornish All Blacks, were third bottom in the standings in their first season back at Step Five, five points above second bottom Newbury Blues and having played a game less.

But with just two teams set to be relegated anyway, they will expect to be given a chance to build on a sterling 2020 so far which has seen them lose just twice since Christmas.

Player/coach Ryan Westren said: “I think everyone is starting to realise the magnitude of what’s going on. Whether you’re at the top, middle or the bottom of the league, there’s no-way it could have continued and in the grand scheme of things it’s not important. But that being said, a lot has been put into the season by players, coaches, supporters and volunteers.

“But we need to follow the right steps to nip this in the bud, so if that means sport goes on the backburner for a while, it’s 100% the right decision.

“We’ve got to stick to the rules we’ve been given and the more we do now the quicker normality can resume and we can get back to playing some rugby.”

Westren’s fellow joint head coach, Ian Goldsmith told the club website: “The 2019/20 season is now over, albeit incomplete. It seems very final and very speedy, however it does provide clarity to clubs that there will be no more games.

“On a totally selfish point of view, it is highly frustrating as we had five games left, three of which were in front of the passionate Polson Bridge crowd and we’d have fancied our chances of being successful. I’m sure we’re all aware that clubs in the mid and lower tiers thrive on having prestige home games, as it helps sustain their upkeep and provides a welcome relief to the local community from daily employment.

“The other aspect that is sometimes overlooked is how the senior teams, performing successfully, act as inspiration for the mini and junior sections of a club and are key to a successful future.”

Bude overcame a poor second quarter to the season to end up in fourth in the Tribute Cornwall/Devon League, and player/coach Angus Hodges has no arguments with the decision.

He said: “Being in the position I am as head coach and a gym owner, we’ve had to adapt quickly with what’s going on, and I think the RFU have done exactly what’s expected of them. Unfortunately it’s a very serious situation and they’ve treated it so, so I think if they’d done anything else then it’d have been reckless and irresponsible.

“As heartbreaking as it is from the club’s point of view with the cancellation of games for the minis and juniors, ladies and men’s teams plus all the events we’ve had to cancel, sport and social events were one of the first things to get limited and to begin with it felt quite extreme. But as things have developed it makes you thankful that those measures were put in place.

“On the pitch we were taking steps forward in the league and putting pressure on the top three which would have been the perfect place for us to finish for the second year in a row, but it wasn’t to be.

“The seconds have also really improved with what is a very young side and the level of training has really got better. The club is in a good place to build over the next few years.”

Camelford struggled throughout the season in both Cornwall Two and the Kernow League (Group Four), but continue to plug away.

Chairman Martyn Baker said: “For us the effects have been somewhat minimal. With the club sat at the bottom of the Kernow League with two games left there, was no chance of making any final game. So the effects on that are considered not important and welcomed by a few injured players who needed to rest up niggling injuries. 

“Unfortunately though we were due to play in our first ever cup final in 11 years, on April 18 against Redruth Albany in the Cornwall Clubs Cup Bowl. We’re still awaiting information as to whether this game is to be played after the restrictions are lifted or whether it is now null and void. This is of course a blow to the players who were looking forward to competing for their first ever piece of silverware.

“We’ll now wait on proceedings before announcing the start date for pre-season training and a possible endeavour into a few rugby league games to aid with fitness.

“I would like to thank every player who has put on the Camelford shirt during this season.”

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