RUGBY clubs around the region are set to return to training this week following the relaxation of the lockdown rules.
Most Plymouth Combination sides are currently just planning training sessions but a few have pencilled in adapted rules matches for May after hardly any rugby for 12 months.
Devonport Services and Plymstock Albion Oaks are hoping to play each other again at the start of May, while OPMs have arranged home and away matches against Salcombe and are looking for some more.
However, for most clubs it is just about getting players back together and blowing the cobwebs off after lockdown.
“I think as keen as everyone is to get going again, it’s more about the social element and catching up with everyone,” said Tavistock’s player-coach Hammy Kerswill.
“We are just going to do social touch sessions for the firsts and that will be it until pre-season.”
Ivybridge’s head coach Gareth Elliott said ahead of his side’s return to training on Thursday: “We’ll possibly get some games down the line but nothing’s confirmed yet. We’ll just see how it goes. We just want the lads enjoying their rugby for now.”
Devonport Services’ Mike Lewis added: “We are going to bother a little bit. We are going to start training for the people that want to train – it is optional – and then on May 1 we have provisionally pencilled in a game with Plymstock Albion Oaks. For us that will be the final game and we’ll then knock it on the head and put it to bed then for this season.
“As a rugby club we usually do some off-season gym training. Ben Wadham has just set up his new gym so we are going to link up with him in the off-season. We are going to do once a week to get the boys fit and conditioned after a year of not playing rugby.”
Lewis added: “Most people don’t just play rugby for the rugby; they also play for the social aspect and to hang out with our pals. We are happy that we can provide that in a time when no-one is allowed to really see each other or mix in large groups. The only place you can mix in a large group is in an organised sporting environment. Hopefully, we can help people out of a bit of isolation.
“It is something we haven’t really been able to do properly for a year now.”
Saltash are going to be doing two nights a week, while all the Devon One sides are also going to start training this week.
OPMs coach Rick Orkney said: “We start training this week for eight weeks. The plan is to play touch/Ready4Rugby fixtures in April and contact games in May.
“We have Salcombe home and away in May but we are looking for two more games and we don’t currently have any touch games arranged for April.”
Orkney is hoping some clubs will come forward to provide some fixtures for them.
Tamar Saracens’ Pete Lethbridge said: “We are going to start training this Tuesday just fun sessions at the moment, just to get the lads back on the pitch. We will see how it goes for the moment but hopefully we can get a few tag games in later on.”
Old Techs are not looking to play any games against other sides but are looking forward to getting back to training.
“We are going back training on April 1,” said Techs’ Shaun Bedford-Smith. “Initially, it will be just touch for the first couple of weeks to get them back into it and then we’ll see what the interest is like. It is more about getting the players back together.”
Plymouth Argaum will be offering casual touch and fitness sessions on a Tuesday and a Saturday morning from this week, while Devon Merit side Plympton Victoria will also start training again this week and Devonport High School for Old Boys will begin on April 8.
“We’ll just see how it goes,” said Plym Vic’s Chris Hunt. “The main driver for us is just getting everyone back together.”
Although clubs can return to training without any scrums and mauls from today, they cannot open changing rooms, gyms or clubhouses. Spectators are also not permitted until mid-May, while players have been told they have to social distance when play is stopped. The only types of fixtures allowed until April 26 are tag, touch or Ready4Rugby games. From April 26 games under the temporary law variations (no scrums or mauls) can take place.