A ‘covid secure’ Sidmouth Rugby Club back up and running on and off the pitch

The Sidmouth RFC girls section line up after a Sunday session at the club. Picture; SRFC

The Sidmouth RFC girls section line up after a Sunday session at the club. Picture; SRFC - Credit: Archant

Following a six-month hiatus since the coronavirus lockdown in March, Sidmouth Rugby Club reopened last Friday with a weekend of activity based around the RFU level D permitted activity, writes Terry O’Brien.

A covid security operation masterminded by the club safeguarding and welfare team of Emma Bagwell and Pippa Bird has been put into operation to create an environment into which no self-respecting virus would wish to enter.

Bar manager, Sarah Burston, assisted by Peter O’Brien and Peter Duncan followed the plan to construct a covid-secure clubhouse and ground.

A group of septuagenarian volunteers completed the last-minute preparations to ensure the Blackmore Field was looking its best and fully prepared for the weekend.

On Friday evening, head coach Phil Dolman put a group of about 40 senior players through their paces in a training session watched by a good crowd of members and supporters, who seemed equally, if not more interested in checking that the bar service arrangements met the necessary standards.

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On Saturday afternoon five teams of Colts and Under-16s took part on an intra-club touch rugby competition with more than 40 players involved.

Referees Stephen Kruger and Henry Sanford worked up a good sweat keeping up with the youngsters.

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Again, a good crowd of supporters were in attendance to cheer the players on and enjoy the enthusiasm and skill on display.

This was an opportunity to dust off the Pullin Cup, presented to the Club by and named after the Club’s founder Bingley Pullin for a competition between teams of boys aged 17 and under.

The historic trophy was first contested for at Christmas in 1904.

The cup was presented to the captain of the winning team by club president Terry O’Brien.

On Sunday it was the turn of the juniors to get their season under way with registration and first training sessions.

Each squad has been provided with its own set of covid-compliant instructions and equipment not to be shared with other age groups, including a disinfectant bath (for equipment, not players!) and hand sanitizer.

They even have an app, which I am assured works.

The minis and youths assembled in the morning at Sidford and Blackmore following a timetable to ensure the correct numbers were allocated to each pitch and changeovers were smooth.

The three girls age groups got their season underway in the afternoon on the Blackmore Field.

The weekend’s events were concluded with a showing of the Saracens versus Exeter Chiefs Premiership match on the big screen in the clubhouse following the groups of six protocol due to come into force the following day.

Throughout it was evident that the players from Under-7s right through to the 1st XV were relishing the opportunity to get back into action albeit with very limited contact.

This Saturday (September 19) it will be the senior players turn to stage an intra-club touch rugby tournament at Blackmore starting at 2pm.

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