Big turnout at Harrogate RUFC as phased return to rugby begins

Harrogate RUFC director of rugby Dave Doherty admitted that he was relieved to see such a big turnout when players reported back for training this week.

Thursday, 1st April 2021, 4:53 pm
Updated Thursday, 1st April 2021, 5:29 pm
Harrogate RUFC director of rugby, Dave Doherty. Picture: Caught Light Photography

Phase one of the Rugby Football Union’s Return to Community Rugby Roadmap saw teams permitted to resume group sessions and undertake some contact work as of March 29.

And there were plenty of eager participants in attendance at Rudding Lane on Tuesday night, much to Doherty’s delight.

“The turnout was absolutely class, I was really pleased,” he said.

“We had 53 seniors training, 51 come for our touch rugby session and the under-11s, 12s, 13s and 14s teams all returned. Everything went well, so I’m very relieved.

“Our worry was that people might be nervous or anxious about coming back to play rugby, so we put everything in place to try and put minds at rest.

“We invested in extra balls and bibs, there was hand sanitiser and everyone had to wash their hands every 15 minutes. We did as much as we could to make the players feel safe so that they were able to take part without any worries and hopefully they will want to come back.

“We just want to see people getting out in the fresh air, enjoying the company of others, enjoying playing rugby and this was a big step towards that and some kind of a return to normality.”

Harrogate Ladies and the club’s under-15s, under-16s and Colts teams will resume training on Thursday evening with Doherty hopeful that all sides will be able to play fully-competitive rugby again from September, assuming that the 2020/21 season kicks-off as scheduled.

“Obviously everything is dependent on the government and what happens with Covid, but I am hopeful that we’ll have everyone back playing as normal from September,” Doherty added.

“The next few weeks will just be about getting people back into the swing of things, getting them used to having a ball in their hands again. Then we’ll do some conditioning work and some more technical sessions and think about our pre-season preparations.”

Harrogate’s 1st XI and 2nd XI are scheduled to play a trio of friendlies against York, Sheffield Tigers and Wharfedale in coming weeks.

“They will be adapted games, which means there are no scrums or mauls,” Doherty explained.

“We’ll probably play three 20-minute halves, but everything else is the same, it’s still 15-a-side. We’re really looking forward to these matches.”