10:00AM, Friday 18 September 2020
Some semblance of normality returned to Braywick Park on Saturday as Maidenhead Rugby Club hosted a 10s touch competition.
The competition was quickly arranged by the club after the RFU enabled community clubs across the country to move into phase c of the game’s return to competitive action. With two teams of up to 10 players now able to face off in a non-contact match, it’s allowed the club to practice game play scenarios in training and to start tempting supporters back to Braywick with the promise of competitive matches.
Two clubs took Maids up on their offer and teams from Tring RFC, Windsor and the host club faced off in a fun competition which was watched by around a hundred spectators over the course of the day. Maidenhead’s A string, featuring a certain Will Greenwood, took the trophy, ‘his finest achievement’ Myke Parrott, the club’s director of rugby, joked afterwards.
“Will made his debut for the club, his highest honour,” said Parrott. “He had a calf injury but managed to limp through a few games to make his debut. He was chuffed to be back out there in a Maidenhead shirt, because I know that, but for certain injuries, he’d have loved to have represented Maids at some point.
“He was chuffed to be involved as all the players were. He’s still in good shape, still very fit to be honest. He’d have to advise on this but I’m sure he’s fitter now than he was when he was a player.”
The idea for the competition came from David Mobbs-Smith, the club’s head coach, and Maidenhead plan to host another one this coming Saturday featuring sides from Shire Hall and Aldermaston. They plan to return the favour by taking part in a competition hosted by Tring RFC in early October, and Parrott is still hopeful that full-contact league matches could get underway before the end of the year. However, for that to take place the RFU would need to give teams the green light to move into the next phase of the roadmap, enabling contact training and pre-season matches.
“Mobbsy thought this would be a good way for the players to get some competitive rugby in and for the club to get some money coming through the bar,” added Parrott. “We did quite well out of Saturday. The estimates were that about 100 supporters came to watch through the day so it was brilliant to have some semblance of rugby on a Saturday back at Braywick Park.
“The last few weeks we’ve been able to run patterns in training and look at systems. We’ve been able to work on certain moves in certain areas of the field. We’ve looked at our defensive set up and done lineout drills. There’s so much more you can do when it’s 10 vs 10, rather than five plus one coach which was tough.
“I think we’re doing some really good things now. We’re leading the way and are ahead of the curve on a lot of things. We’ve got these touch competitions running when some clubs haven’t returned to training yet. We’ve been working on player sponsors and have got this deal now with London Scottish (see shoulder article), which is a big rugby and commercial move for the club. We’re trying to be the best club we can be this season and also moving forwards.”
Parrott has also been settling into his new director of rugby role and plans to update club members and supporters on new player and backroom staff arrivals, as well as the new link with London Scottish, later this month.
“There’s plenty to do for sure,” he said. “I’m putting the finishing touches to the back-room staff, there will be a couple of additions there which will make us more professional and will give us a couple of different options there. I will soon be announcing new players that we’ve managed to get on board, and then we’ve got the actual rugby to consider as well. If the next season does kick-off on November 7 then we’ll have to quickly get a couple of pre-season friendlies in as well before the season kicks off.
“The next window for the league starting is November 7, but for that to happen we’d need to move to the next phase of the roadmap in the next few weeks. That would allow full contact training and matches with other clubs.
“That phase would have to run for at least a month so the latest it could happen is say October 7, so we should be finding out more about that in the next couple of weeks hopefully. If we don’t get the green light for that then, unfortunately, it’s going to be a January start at the earliest.”
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