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Windsor's return to competitive rugby thwarted by rise in COVID cases

Windsor head coach Jack Pattinson has been left with feelings of frustration after the club were forced to shelve plans of playing competitive rugby this month.

Following an alarming rise in COVID-19 cases, the RFU has had to pull the plug on plans to get grassroots rugby going again across the country playing again in what it termed ‘cluster fixtures’.

After the 2020/21 season was officially abandoned for all but the top two tiers in October last year, clubs across the RFU’s leagues were offered the chance to participate in regionally drawn mini leagues.

They were set to take place without promotion or relegation, while players were set to play an adapted form of the regular 15-a-side game – without scrums or mauls – after it was approved by the Government in December.

But matches that had been due to get underway this month will now be delayed or cancelled.

Pattinson said: “I feel like we’ve managed to grow really organically throughout the 10 months of the pandemic and put ourselves in a really strong position as a club.

“After the November lockdown, we managed to get a couple of sessions in where we could all train at Stage E on the return-to-rugby roadmap and prepare for the planned fixtures in January.

“At training we had brilliant numbers and at one time had 45 lads down. We managed to recruit some new players and bring some good characters back into the mix. It was brilliant and we were in a really good place but now, I feel, we’re going to have to start that process all over again.

“Receiving the news that we could play competitively in the New Year was a massive bolt for the boys. But those plans have now been shelved and we’re waiting on an update by the RFU for when we can potentially play again.”

After last season’s premature cancellation, Pattinson is sceptical that any rugby will be played this season. He hopes the players will stay committed to the club in challenging times.

“We’ve got to keep people engaged, which is going to be difficult, however we can over the next couple of months,” added Pattinson.

“If we’re still not playing by April, it will be about gearing up for next season instead.

“It’s looking unlikely that we will have a season to play in this year at all. Things do seem to be changing quickly, however, and we could get a nod in a few weeks to say we can start playing games again in March.

“It’s all a matter of timing. If I start trying to recruit boys and keep them engaged now, the coaches and I are going to become white noise in two or three months time if we have no rugby at the end of it.

“Once we get a little clarity about what we can start preparing for then we will start speaking to the boys and getting more involved.”

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