After over six months of inactivity for the Jersey Reds minis and juniors due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic they are resuming training on 18 October – albeit in an adapted format.
Michelle Clark, the Reds mini and juniors chairperson, said the priority was to get the kids back training and enjoying their rugby.
‘Some of them won’t have picked up a rugby ball since March,’ she said. ‘It is key for both their physical and mental health and, from a club perspective, we want to recoup as many numbers as possible.’
Clark said there was no chance of the juniors travelling abroad or playing any competitive fixtures for the rest of the year so the focus was to make training as engaging as possible.
‘Training for training’s sake is not everyone’s cup of tea and so we are going to try to make it as rewarding as possible,’ she said.
The club is following guidelines from both Jersey Sport and the RFU, which has meant adapting its usual training sessions. Clark said the sessions could not include full contact and would be predominantly made up of drills and ten-a-side touch games.
She added: ‘Even if we could play full contact, some of our members may not have played any sport for months and so the focus was always going to be on getting them fit and resharpening their rugby skills.’
U14 age groups and below will continue to train on a Sunday morning and the U15, U16 and Colts groups will train on weekday evenings.
The club has hired out the Jersey Wanderers football pitches in addition to its own in order to allow for separation of groups.
Clark said they were limited to groups of 40, plus ten staff per pitch, and would introduce a five-metre marking distance between pitches.
She has also encouraged parents to drop off their child rather than ‘hang around’, and said the club would introduce staggered start and finish times to training to cope with the flow of people at the ground.
Reflecting on the news that the juniors could resume training, Clark said: ‘It has been a journey to get to this point, as we have never been too sure when we would get the green light to resume. We are delighted to get our juniors back on the pitch and want to give an extended thank you to Jersey Sport and the other bodies we have liaised with on a daily basis throughout this difficult time.’