By David Wilkinson
On Friday the RFU issued a new roadmap for the return of community rugby; naturally, the roadmap is built around the Government’s own step-by-step roadmap being achieved. They had this to say: “It’s wonderful to see light at the end of the tunnel and we are as delighted as clubs and players across the country that they will soon be able to resume training and, progress towards contact fixtures and an exciting season of rugby for 2021/22 from September. While we are all incredibly excited about getting back out on the pitch, we should also be conscious of the need to build-up gradually after a long lay-off. The focus for all activity over the next three months should be on player retention and player safety.”
Subject to the Government’s targets being reached, there is now a clear plan for the return to full-contact rugby, with scrums and mauls. The earliest date for the full game to return would be 31st May, however there will be plenty of rugby played at Priory Park between the 29th March and then.
The Club is now in stage A (non-contact training of up to 2 people), but on the 29th March, we will leap-frog to stage D1. This will be the start of rugby returning to Priory Park, all sections: full contact training; walking/touch/tag rugby; with possible matches against other clubs.
From April 26th the game will resume to where it was prior to this last lockdown: full contact rugby, playing the adapted game, where applicable (no scrums and mauls). Scrum and Maul training would commence on 17th May with the possibility of full-on matches returning from 31st May.
The RFU season is due to restart, as normal, at the beginning of September; however, there is a strong possibility of some local matches being played before that date; either in a formalised merit-style table or by good old-fashioned ‘Friendlies’.
THE FUN STARTS
On the 12th of April, the ban on outdoor eating and drinking will be lifted, and the Sin Bin bar and Maggie and Barry’s Priory Park eatery will swing into action on the 13th and stay open for the rest of the week, look out for opening times.
Macclesfield Festival of Rugby
Competitive rugby starts up again at Macclesfield Rugby Club over the weekend of Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th April, when Priory Park will host the senior teams on Saturday and the Mini and Junior sections on Sunday. Repeating last year’s successful format all teams will be split into four Houses: LIONS, THE BLUES, PRIORY PIRATES and MACC WOLF PACK, with each team scoring points for the House over the two days of the competition.
‘PITCH-UP FOR RUGBY, YOUR CLUB HAS MISSED YOU’ is the ‘clarion call’ to the whole of the playing membership at MRUFC. It’s expected that in the region of 500, boys, girls, men and women will pitch-up over the two days. The Club will welcome local players back down to Priory Park to get involved and play the Ready4Rugby adapted non-contact game and Touch Rugby, not to mention the extremely successful Walking Rugby format – and possibly Petanque (Boules) as well.
More rugby in April, May and June will follow, but in July we will have the exciting return of the Macclesfield 7s. The return of 7s has been talked about for a number of years, but in Andy Appleyard the Club has a General Manager with a track record of putting on successful 7s competitions. Andy’s and the Executive committee’s vision is to make a start this year and develop the tournament into the biggest in the North of England. This will happen in tandem of the Club’s development plans in the creation of new playing surfaces.
Even so, it will launch with a bang, including all sectors of the Club, plus Netball and is open to invited local clubs:
Friday 9th July: Walking Rugby – Mixed-gender 18+, 7-a-side (12 max in a squad); Walking Netball/Return to Netball – 18+ 7-a-side (12 max in a squad).
Saturday 10th July: Men’s Rugby 7s Open – 12 team competition, with group stages then finals later in the day. 10am K.O. (12 Players max in a squad).
Women’s Rugby 7s Open – 8 team competition, with group stages then finals later in the day. 10am K.O. (12 Players max in a squad).
Vets Half Pitch Rugby 7s – 8 team competition, with group stages then finals later in the day. 1pm K.O. (14 Players max in a squad).
Netball Open – 12 team competition, with group stages and then finals later in the day. 10am K.O. (12 Players max in a squad).
Andy Appleyard had this to say: “Come and join us this year for our first ever ‘Macclesfield 7s Summer Festival’. There’ll be live music, delicious food and our now famous Sin Bin Bar. The Festival Vibe will take over the weekend, starting with an opening Karaoke party night with plenty of hits from the 80s, 90s & 00s and then flow into our main event where you can dance into the weekend with our summer festival vibes party on the Saturday hosting a number of quality local bands. The event already has full sponsorship from main sponsor HUN WINES and key partners Moneyguru.com and TheDirector’sChoice.com “
If required visiting teams will have camping included in their price for both the Friday & Saturday nights plus admission to the evening events.
Contact Andy Appleyard for full details firstname.lastname@example.org
Last weekend’s rugby saw a break from the Six Nations, with the odd player returning to their clubs. Saracens could have done with their full international contingent on the field after they were mugged by a feisty Cornish Pirates team. Saracens can expect more challenges along the way and any more losses before they have their full squad back could seriously damage their chances of a speedy return to the Premiership. The more cynical on Macc Rugby social media groups would have it that the Premiership might change their current ruling if Saracens don’t win the Championship! They wouldn’t, would they?
The other major topic amongst the Macclesfield aficionados and alikadoos has been the poor form of England, now out of the running with a tough game against France at HQ on Saturday. Eddie Jones has rugby riches beyond belief at his disposal and yet has persisted in picking out of form players, mostly from Saracens. After the World Cup, he stated that ‘this team’ would not be around for the World Cup, and yet the only missing players are those that are injured. He seems to have the turning circle of a juggernaut! Although England is now only playing for the pride it would seem, in some eyes, that it’s time to throw a little caution to the wind, and experiment: Sam Simmonds, Max Malins, Dan Robson to name a few, but I doubt it.
From a local view, Sale Sharks won well in the end at the AJ Bell beating Newcastle Falcons, the highlights being another world-class performance by Faf de Klerk and an equally world-class off-load by AJ MacGinty for Lood de Jager to score. There were still a few red cards handed out over the weekend, a couple deserved, but Ollie Thorley’s head-clash in the tackle seemed exceedingly harsh in my book, and not even a penalty. It seems that referees and their off-field helpers are playing a different game, which at times seems to be out-of-fit with both players and supporters – but they believe they know best.