Hatches battened down but Welwyn well prepared to ‘ride this storm out’

PUBLISHED: 15:06 13 April 2020 | UPDATED: 15:06 13 April 2020

Welwyn have ceased all activity and shut up the club but they are still confident of surviving the crisis. Picture: KARYN HADDON

Welwyn have ceased all activity and shut up the club but they are still confident of surviving the crisis. Picture: KARYN HADDON

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Welwyn Rugby Club are well equipped to “ride this storm out” but chairman Mark Elliott admits the coronavirus lockdown is still a difficult time for rugby in general.

Welwyn Rugby Club president and chairman Mark Elliott.Welwyn Rugby Club president and chairman Mark Elliott.

The Hobbs Way side, like many in grassroots sport and business, have seen income completely dry up with the closing of the clubhouse.

But despite that Elliott is still confident that they are in a better position than most.

“We will ride this storm out,” he said. “I’m applying for every bit of help from the RFU and the council as we can, stopping rates and all that sort of stuff.

“We pay rent on the pitches and I’ve spoken to them about that, asking if we can have some money back. It’s not a huge amount but every little helps.

Welwyn Rugby Club's home and clubhouse is at Hobbs Way in Welwyn Garden City.Welwyn Rugby Club's home and clubhouse is at Hobbs Way in Welwyn Garden City.

“If you say we’ve missed 10 weeks of the season, and it’s quite an important 10 weeks as it would have been the end of the season with the awards dinner and all of that, if you take that it could have been thousands of pounds we haven’t got.

“It’s not a disaster and I think we will get through it but I do think other clubs may struggle.

“We’re in a fairly strong position financially but there may be others that are not as well prepared.

“In terms of the club we’ve basically shut up shop.

“The gym equipment has been shared out among some of the players who asked for it but that’s all closed up too.

“We did try to do some take-away beer for a while as we had all this beer sitting there and we were just going to chuck it out.

“We did a couple of sessions of take-away beer where it was one in, one out of the club.

“That was quite fun as you got to see other humans but that was brought to an end after government advice.

“It’s disruptive and we are all volunteers but we’re all trying to do what is best for the club to get us through.”

They are working towards a major revamp and refurbishment of the changing rooms, scheduled to take place in two years time, but Elliott says that has a separate fund that should mean it continues without any delay.

Other parts of rugby club life haven’t been so lucky.

“JOCAfest and an inaugural beer festival hasn’t been cancelled yet but we all realise it will be,” he said. “There were one or two centenary things we were involved in like the game with Letchworth.

“That was supposed to be in May but will probably be in September now and we were putting a team in for the dragon boat racing but that has been cancelled.”

He does hope though that the community club can bring a smile back to people’s faces when the lockdown is finally lifted.

He said: “We’re planning a big day at the club, possibly in mid-July, when we’ll have the AGM, a barbecue and the mini and junior and senior awards.

“That should be fun.”


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