Welwyn opt to suspend all rugby-related activity at the club in the wake of continuing tier four restrictions

James Tan in action for Welwyn Rugby Club

It may be some time before Welwyn get back out on the pitch. - Credit: DANNY LOO

Welwyn Rugby Club have opted to suspend all rugby activity in the wake of the tier four announcement.

It has been a hugely frustrating year for rugby clubs across the country with only sporadic training and adapted matches for the majority of 2020.

The placing of Hertfordshire into tier four was another body blow to clubs and while guidance from the RFU and the government did allow some junior, age-grade rugby to take place, the Hobbs Way-based outfit have decided that discretion is the better part of valour.

In a statement on the club's website chairman Len Cleary explained that "safeguarding our membership is key".

He said: "We have considered all the guidance and the chairs of the senior, mini and junior section have agreed that Welwyn RFC will remain closed for all rugby-related activity.

"This decision has not been taken lightly and we know this will be disappointing to all our players and parents throughout the club. However the safety of our players, coaches and volunteers remains a priority to us.

"We hope that this will only be a temporary measure and will constantly review the situation as advised by the government and RFU."

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A week earlier he had reflected on a "difficult year" in his Christmas message to the club, choosing to focus on the positives.

He said: "Although not what anybody wanted, we should still recognise what we have achieved with the rules and regulations placed upon us.

"In September instead of playing rugby we had a clean up of the club with help from the parents and volunteers. Areas that had been neglected outside received a transformation.

"We did get all our mini and juniors back training. Even in Phase A of the return to rugby road map our coaches took the time for one-to-one sessions which was important for physical and mental wellbeing.

"As we progressed through the stages, it was logistically difficult running sessions with the rule of six and track and trace.

"Welwyn ladies and junior girls did play some 10-a-side touch competitions and the senior men have been integrating the colts in training sessions. Both the men and ladies had games scheduled for 2021 but tier four has placed this on hold.

"Our volunteer bar teams have adapted with the regulations to provide table service for drinks. Extra work for them, but essential in helping the club raise bar revenue. In the latest lockdown, we looked at providing 'a substantial meal' but for us at Welwyn this was a bridge too far.

"But Gary Peterkin, our clubhouse manager, has worked tirelessly to ensure that we are safe and COVID compliant when in the clubhouse.

"I hope you still enjoyed the festive period and look forward to better times and a return to rugby."

The advice from the RFU on rugby in tier four areas said age grade players can play but only travel within their specific tier four area, and may only be accompanied by one parent or carer.

Volunteers living in tier four, which includes coaches and match officials, may only travel within their specific area to enable participation to take place for U18s only.

Additional exemptions are in place for people with a disability.

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