THE rainbow was used as a multicoloured ray of hope for brighter times after lockdown – so it was appropriate that one shone out across Farnham Rugby Club to herald the return of competitive play last Saturday.
As a full contact sport, arguably rugby has been the grass roots team sport hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, yet this image symbolises the determination that pervades the club to crack on with better things to come.
A group of 50 under-12 players took part in an intra-club tournament under the RFU’s Ready for Rugby rules – ten-a-side touch rugby including the ability to kick the ball out of hand.
Making the most of the privilege of using the main pitch, the players demonstrated some brilliant skills with committed line-breaks, tactical grubbers, strong communication and sportsmanship all on display.
Head coach Andy Matthews said: “We’ve not played truly competitive games since the mini tour back in early March, so we wanted to create a bit of festival atmosphere and a bit of a normal feeling for the players.”
After playing a series of matches, the children watched their parents and coaches – most of whom play for the Saxons O2 Touch, Farnham Falcons Women or Vets teams – having their own game.
It was a hotly and fairly contested game, ably marshalled by Nicki Doran and Jon Quinell, with tries from Andy Stradling, Simon Lill and Andy Matthews making it an entertaining spectacle.
To everyone’s delight, Charlie Mayer – a parent always first in the queue to volunteer for car parking duty, coffee runs, pitch marshal, timekeeper and kit carrier – dusted off his boots and made a blistering line break to score his first try since the age of 11.
The following day two squads faced opposition from other clubs in Ready for Rugby matches.
The academy sent under-17 and under-18 squads to Bracknell while the under-18 girls entertained Dorking.
Touch rugby might not be top of a 17-year old boy’s agenda, but in these tricky times the academy made the most of the trip to Bracknell and delivered a very entertaining Sunday afternoon.
All those hours on the training paddock at the club were not for nothing. Lines were run. Diamond structures formed. Double waves of attack evaded the touch of the opposition.
With head coach Hamish Webb’s encouragement ringing in their ears, the boys flung the ball wide, mismatches were created, actual tries were scored and another tentative step towards normality was taken.
This is the first season that Farnham has fielded an under-18 girls squad, which is testament to the growth in popularity of women’s rugby and the club’s eagerness and ability to respond.
Once again skill and pace were on show in a match officiated by none other than international referee Nikki O’Donnell.
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