Western Mail

Maesteg facing full year on sidelines


A Welsh rugby club fears it could go a year without rugby because of the coronaviru­s pandemic.

Maesteg RFC last took the field on January 25, when they hosted Cefn Cribwr.

They had three matches called off in the month or so before lockdown, including one which fell victim to Storm Dennis and another which couldn’t be held because of the lack of a referee.

Now, the club - who chose to drop from Division One West Central to Division 3ECC in 2018 amid a shortage of players - is not optimistic about seeing their players back on the field before 2021 amid the constraint­s affecting the community game.

“I don’t think we’ll be playing any community rugby in Wales until the new year,” said secretary Darren Farmer.

“Our last game was on January 25.

“The way it’s going it will probably be a whole 12 months without rugby.

“That’s tough for all the boys involved, our coaches and our supporters.

“But we understand that it can’t be helped in the current climate.

“We all have to do our bit to stop this virus from flaring up again.”

In line with Welsh Government guidance, the Welsh Rugby Union have sanctioned the inclusion of touch rugby as part of fitness and skills-based training at all levels of the game in Wales.

But other measures remain in force: these include the requiremen­t for any training to take place in small groups, with social distancing applying to all other parts of the sessions and gatherings, no contact and no matches against other clubs, schools or hubs.

“You could have five months of pre-season if you want it,” said Farmer.

“But doing fitness and skills for that length of time, without a match to play towards on a Saturday, could put boys off and that’s the last thing we want.

“We don’t want to people losing the habit. There are enough things to turn youngsters off playing rugby right now without something else.

“I think our players want to get together once a week and keep ticking over.

“Beyond that, all of us are going to have to be patient.

“The thing is, if the season does start in January, there’s concern then about matches being called off in the depths of winter because of the weather.

“So right now it’s not a great situation.

“But we all understand the importance of beating this virus. Infection rates have started to rise again, so it’s a question of people being sensible and careful.”

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