July 4th turned out to be an historic day last Saturday, on both sides of The Pond! The team at Macclesfield Rugby Club had been planning it for weeks; how to turn Priory Park into a safe environment for members to have fun and socialise – but first the squad had to go through its paces on the pitch; no-pain, no-gain, and no beer!

The first team squad were out in force on Saturday morning for a full-on session with Fitness and Conditioning Coach, Jason Curtis, putting them through their paces. No doubt, even though the boys had been working hard on their own personal fitness during lockdown, the lack of rugby will have meant a few pounds being put on here and there. Jason’s challenge with the boys is to help them shed unwanted poundage whilst maintaining maximum strength. The Club is very fortunate to benefit from the combined skills of Jason, Matt Coleridge (Performance Analysis) and Andy Appleyard (Head Coach); who together are creating individual conditioning plans that are tailored to each player’s specific needs. This level of fitness support is only normally available to players in the top tiers of rugby.

Damp conditions didn’t deter members for the opening of the Priory Park Beer Garden
Damp conditions didn’t deter members for the opening of the Priory Park Beer Garden

The RFU ruling, for no contact training, is still at 2 metres social distancing, which is challenging for the coaching staff and frustrating for the players, who are all desperate to get back to full-on contact rugby; hopefully, they will not have too long to wait. There is, however, good news on the horizon; the RFU has announced that clubs in the top end of the amateur game can resume league rugby from October 10th. This will be a major help to the Club, as they can now formulate a plan leading to the start of the season.

Damp conditions didn’t deter members for the opening of the Priory Park Beer Garden
Damp conditions didn’t deter members for the opening of the Priory Park Beer Garden

After training the squad players were joined by members in the, now open, Priory Park Beer Garden. Whilst it was far from a sunny July afternoon, it didn’t dampen the spirits of the numerous groups of players and members that gathered for beer, burgers and banter. General Manager Andy Appleyard, and his team, had put a lot of work in, to make the venue safe and enjoyable for everyone: “Given the weather, I’m really pleased with just how many people turned up, there must have been 150 or so people, but everyone had a great time”. Plans are to open the Beer Garden for at least the next two weeks and to work at making it more of a permanent fixture with planters and more furniture. Andy said it would be great for someone that is looking for a project to get their teeth into.

Bad news from the Club this week has been the bicycle accident of Club Captain Franky Barker and more vandalism. Franky was unfortunately involved in a collision that resulted in a broken left arm and tissue damage to his right arm; hopefully, he will make a speedy recovery in time for October 10th. The Club has suffered numerous incidents of vandalism with large groups of youths breaking into the Astro-Turf pitch and also breaking seats in the Stand. The local police are now proactively involved and CCTV security has been increased; if you see any incidents taking place please dial 101.

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