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Maidenhead RFC are still 'buoyant' despite lockdown blues

Maidenhead RFC head coach David Mobbs-Smith has been attempting to unpick the ramifications of the Government’s latest national lockdown and the impact it will have on the club and its players.

However, he insisted the club was still ‘buoyant’ at all levels and would work to find solutions to all the problems and hurdles put in front of them.

The head coach is understandably disappointed the club isn’t able to function as it normally does, having come so close to being one of the first community clubs in the country to play a contact match last month.

He also feels for the players – at all levels from the colts to the seniors – who have had a significant chunk of their development and potentially valuable opportunities taken away from them by COVID-19.

Speaking this week Mobbs-Smith said Maids were at the front of the queue in following and implementing the RFU’s return to rugby protocols and, although this week’s news has been a setback, he said they’ll return to the drawing board once more and come up with some new solutions

“This club is hugely progressive,” he said.

“It’s also hugely supportive and is always trying to find answers to these questions.

“From a management or coaching point of view we’re always trying to find some way of engaging with our players, coaches and parents.

“As soon as the country opens up, we’ll be ready to go.

“We’ve been one of the leading clubs in the RFU community programme in getting players back to training and playing. We were the first to go back to training, the first to play touch games and we were down to be the first to play contact games as well. That’s where Maidenhead is as a club and community. It shows you how people here see problems and try to find solutions to them. Hopefully, we’ll be able to do that again in March.”

Mobbs-Smith is confident clubs will re-establish themselves after the coronavirus pandemic passes, however, he believes the price paid by the individual players will be much higher.

“Clubs will survive due to the community,” he said.

“They’re very strong because of how they’re set up. Don’t get me wrong some will have struggled, but there’s a far bigger price paid by the individual. For example, someone who was 32 at the start of this will now be 34, having not played contact rugby.

“Are they going to be able to get back to where they were without getting injured? Will they have the drive to do that?

“There’s only a short period of time where you’re at your best, and the rest of the time it’s downhill. You might still enjoy the sport when you’re 45 but you can’t run like you did when you were 25.

“And then there’s the kids. Say you’ve got an u12s player who hasn’t really grown physically during this period, and they’re now turning up at u14s against players who are massive in comparison. They haven’t had that chance to develop, so they’ll probably be gone from the game when they might have adapted through this period.

“Then there’s the u18s guys who have missed the chance to play representative rugby for their counties. They’ll miss the chance to do that and may stop playing the game when they could have had opportunities to progress.

“I must say that our youth section is buoyant, and as soon as there’s an opportunity to come back they’ll come back, but these are my wider concerns. If someone has spent 18 months doing something different, that’s their new life, whatever it might be, whether it’s long-distance cycling or whatever. That’s now how they spend their free time.

“We’re going to do what we can to keep players engaged with our game. So that they stay rugby players and don’t become golfers. This isn’t just about sport though. This club is their social environment.

“It’s where they live their lives on a Saturday or Sunday. It’s part of their social fabric.

“The club is part of who they are, and we’ll do everything we can to keep our rugby family together. We’ll find a way, just like all families do.”

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