Region’s rugby clubs prepare for adapted game return

PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks are set to entertain Devonport Services next weekend at Horsham Fields when adapted rugby is given the go-ahead to start.

However, quite a lot of other clubs in the region are going to wait until after Christmas before returning to competitive action.

Having received government approval, the RFU have given clubs permission to play a 15-a-side adapted game, without scrums or mauls, from December 18.

Plymstock and Services are set to meet on Saturday, December 19, and Devonport have also pencilled in an away fixture with Ivybridge at Cross-in-Hand on Boxing Day.

“We are keen to try and get some games in,” said Services head coach Mike Lewis. “We have booked a game against Plymstock on December 19. We are going to pop up there and have a run-out against them and we have booked in a game against Ivybridge on Boxing Day.

“We usually have an Exiles game on Boxing Day, but they don’t think they will be able to get a team together this year so we thought we would take up Ivybridge’s offer.”

Lewis admits it will be interesting playing without scrums or mauls. Those are not currently allowed due to the greater risk of spreading Covid-19.

“It should be a bit of fun,” said Lewis. “You are going to have to be quite creative – and that’s the exciting part. You are going to have to do stuff you wouldn’t normally do.

“We are going to try lots of new things over the next six months or however long we can play this season and see if it works and see if we can adapt it for next year.

“If we think something sounds like a cool idea we will go with it. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, but if it does we will keep it for next year.”

Lewis knows some players will not want to risk playing before Christmas due to Covid-19 and some may not commit at all this season with no league rugby.

“We have said to the guys if you want to come back, come back, but don’t worry if you don’t as we won’t hold it against you,” said Lewis.

Services have not been able to plan in any home games as yet as the Rectory is still out of use due to building work, but the club hope to have it available again in the new year.

Meanwhile, Plymstock player-coach Aiden Taylor said they have a lot of players who do want to play this month.

“We put it out to the lads and they were like ‘absolutely, get us some rugby as soon as possible’,” said Taylor.

“I think we have 28 players available for the run-out against Services. It is good to see that people still want to play, especially against a team a couple of leagues above us.

“A few lads have said they are not going to risk playing until after Christmas, which is fair enough. But it will be good to have a fun run-out.”

Taylor says their club will be keen to include front-row forwards, despite no scrums or mauls.

“I think they still have a place in the game,” said Taylor. “I know there are no scrums but some of our props are our best ball carriers so you can’t take them out of the game completely.

“I am really positive about it (the adapted game), to be honest. At least we get to do something.”

Oaks say they have been in talks with OPMs and Tavistock about playing in the new year ahead of any mini leagues or cup competitions starting. Both OPMs and Tavistock have said they are going to wait until January to return to action.

“We are holding out until the new year with the aim of resuming training on January 5,” said Tavistock player-coach Hammy Kerswill.

“The main idea being we don’t want anyone caught up in track and trace and then isolating over Christmas.

“Although the lads are very keen to get going we would normally have a break over Christmas so it makes sense to resume just the once rather than start and then stop again.”

Tamar Saracens have resumed training but are likely to wait until after Christmas to play some games.

“We are going to see how the next couple of weeks go and try and get some fixtures in the new year,” said director of rugby Peter Lethbridge.

“It will be good to get the boys back and have a bit of fun.”

Plymouth Argaum, like their usual Boxing Day opponents OPMs, are going to wait until January to play a match. They are set to play a Newton Abbot XV on January 9.

Devon Merit Table sides Plympton Victoria, DHSOB and St Columba & Torpoint have all returned to training and are in the process of trying to confirm some fixtures.

“DHSOB have asked us for a game on December 19,” said Plym Vic’s Chris Hunt. “We are just waiting to see what numbers we are likely to have.”

Plym Vic do not have access to their changing rooms at the moment as they have been locked by the council due to Covid-19 and are not likely to have them available until January.

Although league rugby has been cancelled for the 2020-21 campaign, the RFU are hoping to bring in an adapted rules competition in February to fill the rest of the season.

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