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Bridgnorth will bounce back, says Karen Sawbridge

By Nick Elwell | Rugby | Published:

Bridgnorth are still waiting to learn the full extent of the damage caused by the recent floods, but chairwomen Karen Sawbridge is confident the club will bounce back, writes Nick Elwell.

Scenes in Bridgnorth today after the severe flooding. Bridgnorth Rugby Club completely flooded

The All-Blacks’ Edgar Davis base alongside the River Severn has been left underwater, and they face a massive clean up operation once the water levels drop.

“At its height, the water was about one-and-a-half metres above the level of the ground,” said Sawbridge.

“And until it all starts dissipating, we can’t go in and see what’s what and start to sort things out.

“But I would estimate there will be tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage. Obviously we can’t get insurance for the ground because we are on the floodplain.

“But we are going to apply for the maximum grants that we can from the local council, Shropshire council and the RFU.

“And we will have to fund-raise as well to raise whatever is necessary to put things right.

“But our volunteers are fantastic and I am confident we will get back to normal, it’s just a question of when.”

Tomorrow’s scheduled derby with Newport has been rescheduled for March 14.

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Newport had been keen to see if the game could take place at Swancote, where Bridgnorth have a number of other pitches.

But Sawbridge insists playing rugby is not top of the club’s agenda at present.

“Our thoughts are with the people who have been affected by the floods,” she said.

“So many people have had to be re-housed and it has been really, really terrible for the town.

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“We are trying to sort out peoples’ lives so playing rugby is secondary.

“North Midlands Rugby have stepped in and postponed the game until March 14.

“Our pitch at Swancote isn’t big enough, it doesn’t met the RFU requirements in terms of its size or safety.”

“And because the pitch has been covered by water all this time, we don’t know how long it’s going to take to recover.

“It may not have recovered in time for March 14 date because it may not have recovered in time.

“The pavilion building is on two levels, and the water may have got into the top level this time.

“The kitchen, toilets and bar area are on the ground level and they are all completely flooded.

“And although we moved everything we could think of above, there is still the damage it has done to the floors and the walls.

“When we went in last week, everywhere was just sodden with grotty, dirty mud. And it has come back worse this week.

Karen Sawbridge chair

“It’s not an alternative venue, so we have no choice.

“It’s been moved to the next available date which means the North Midlands Cup final we were due to play against Bournville will have to moved to another date.

“It flooded in June and obviously flooded last week and again this week, but prior to that we haven’t had to deal with anything like this since 2000.

“There might have been a minor one in 2008, but nothing like this.

“When the river bursts its bank, it bursts first in Severn Park and it goes around in a circle.

“And because there was a lot of current this time, it was picking up speed and it has gone over out ground and ripped up the advertising boards and swept them away.

“But having said that the two pitches on Severn Park tend to recover quicker, so it might be that we can play on one of those.

“But until the water has gone and we can assess the damage, we just don’t know.

“We are dead keen to play on March 14.

“It’s a massive game for us. it’s sponsors’ day and our most popular fixture where we get games from 800 to 1,000.

“been chair 3 ses vc 2 member since 1998

“Because this was the third flood in nine months, there is a lot of damage underneath and buildings that have never flooded before have flooded through the cellars and walls.

“The extent of damage to buildings will be greater than before.

Nick Elwell

By Nick Elwell
Grassroots Sports Editor

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