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Maidenhead RFC head coach can't see league season starting until new year

If he were forced to place a bet on it, Maidenhead RFC’s head coach David Mobbs-Smith says he can’t see his side returning to league action until the new year at the earliest.

Maidenhead, and every other grassroots community club across the UK, are still currently locked in phase B of the RFU’s return to competitive rugby roadmap. They need to get to phase F for competitive rugby to resume. He’s hoping they’ll take another step along the ladder this month.

But even if progress is made, and restrictions are relaxed to allow larger group training, and touch or tag rugby, Mobbs-Smith can’t see competitive league matches returning before the end of the year at best.

For the first time in their

history Maids are set to play in the London & South East Premier Division this season, after being switched sideways out of the South West Division.

An exciting campaign of new adventures awaits, if they’re ever given the green light to get around to it.

“We might be hindered in terms of the dates we can

return,” he said. “But there are other versions of rugby – touch and tag, for example – that we could play. Our sport could still continue while the maul, the scrum and the ruck are looked at. It’s only the 15-a-side version of the game that is densely populated.

“I’m guessing that’s where rugby will go if things don’t start up this season until after Christmas. If that’s the case then rugby will have to find some solutions if it wants to carry on, other than being a sport that people only watch on television. Rugby is one of those sports that’s fed on its grassroots, they feed the academies.

“It would be like American football not playing College football anymore. At some point they’ll need a solution which works for the sport.

“It’s still possible we could start in October but that’s not likely now. And that’s more to do with where we are in the RFU’s return to play model.

“You need a certain amount of time for each period so, even if you speeded up the phases, you’re already running out of time. Rugby needs at least a month for the players to be physically able to play. You need that for player safety and prevention of injuries. Players need a month’s window for that contact development.

“If you were asking me to put money down. If you said today, we move onto phase C, and we do that for two weeks, well that’s heading towards the end of August. Then we’d need to do D for a couple of weeks, so we’re now into September and then phase E for a month or whatever before we get to F (the resumption of competitive league matches). So suddenly it’s looking tight to start again in October.

“It’s still possible but that’s got more to do with the RFU having discussions with the government.

“What can rugby do? It’s not in the RFU’s hands, it’s to do with the social distancing advice at the time.”

Mobbs-Smith hopes clubs will hear more from the RFU about the timescales for moving through the various phases in the coming weeks.

He wants a bit more clarity over when the organisation expects league matches might return, but, for now he’d be happy just to change things up in training and give the players some new match-play type drills to work on.

“Hopefully we’ll hear something in the next week or so,” he said. “Infections are infections and other sports like football will lead the way.

“There are all these people going back to play football, and the numbers playing it in every town and city will be huge. If football is getting down to grassroots and people are playing, it will open the door for rugby to follow behind. I’m just looking for the next stage. Whatever the journey length is, that’s fine, but give us another rung on the ladder to put our foot on.

“Please just give us that and then we can see how things react to that.”

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