Newport keen to get pack back together

Bob Adams says Newport are itching to return to rugby and re-kindle the camaraderie and togetherness the sport provides.

Newport rugby
Newport rugby

The club take their first steps of recovery post-coronavirus this week by beginning socially-distant training in groups of six for the first team and opening the clubhouse up to members and the community.

The Midlands Premier side begin fitness training on Tuesday, the first time they will meet up after agonizingly missing out on promotion to level four, losing out in a virtual play-off to Harrogate by just a fraction of a percentage record.

Director of rugby Adams says his players are hungry to make a return after the RFU confirmed an October 10 start date – with tweaks to the schedule and make-up of the division – for next season, should there be no second wave from Covid.

“We can only go as the guidelines are saying but it’s much-needed to get the clubs open for revenue and I think people miss it after a while,” said Adams.

“The group are itching to get out there. They seem pretty hungry to get back and going again while staying safe and hopefully there’s no second spike, which would kill the season off.

“The RFU have put in provisions for staggered league start times, we’re due to start on October 10, if there’s a spike it’ll be late November and worse case scenario it could be January.

“When I posted it to the group message they were really keen to get back. Once you lose something, you realise not how important it is but how much you enjoy it, the enjoyment and social aspect.

“You miss the camaraderie of a rugby environment.

“Let’s hope and pray we get that start in October.”

Newport will begin pre-season training proper from the second week in August.

The club are not yet planning for its junior section to return, as Adams explains the youngsters will not benefit from training while socially distant and without equipment.

He added: “We looked at the idea of opening up the junior section. Speaking to the local RFU (rep) Scott Sturdy and it seems impossible.

“Seniors can only go back and do fitness, what juniors aged nine and upwards are going to gain from that is difficult,” he said.

“It’ll be difficult for them to understand you can’t use a ball or there’s no face-to-face or contact. We thought it’d probably create more problems.”

“We’re going to wait for another government review and perhaps in a month we can look at using equipment and balls and that might be the right time to bring them back.”

The Midlands Premier will have a slightly different look to it when action gets under way in October, the RFU have confirmed.

It will remain a division of 14 teams and full matches will be played, but the division will be split into two regionalised groups of seven – with those local home and away fixtures played first to minimise travel.

That means early season derbies against county rivals Bridgnorth, alongside games against the likes of Dudley Kingswinford, Burton, Nuneaton and Bromsgrove, while the lengthy trips to Sheffield and Doncaster will come later in the campaign.

Adams said: “I think it’s the sensible thing to do. There’ll be less travelling to do to start with. Clubs need local derbies as much as you can to attract revenue and help one another out.

“It’s a sensible solution from the RFU, rather than the travelling to Scunthorpe, Sheffield and Doncaster in our league. We’ve got Bridgnorth and DK in the vicinity of 25 or 30 miles of each other and our Birmingham and Coventry teams.”

Newport are opening The Old Showground club house and bar facilities from this weekend, where a new bar and catering manager will help oversee a safe return while protocols are adhered to.

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