Jersey Reds' juniors set the pace as first to return in Britain

JERSEY’S junior rugby players could soon be setting trends for the rest of the country, following a request by the RFU for post-lockdown data not yet obtainable anywhere else in Britain.

Jersey Reds' Minis & Juniors returned under new Covid-19 rules on Sunday – with maximum groups of 35 Picture: ROB CURRIE
Jersey Reds' Minis & Juniors returned under new Covid-19 rules on Sunday – with maximum groups of 35 Picture: ROB CURRIE

The English governing body has asked Jersey Reds’ Minis & Juniors coaches to keep tabs on their youngsters in the coming weeks as officials consider the sport’s future landscape. The Reds became the first club to restart grassroots rugby on Sunday morning, thanks to more favourable Covid-19 case-rates than those seen in the UK.

Age-group squads from under-6 through to U14 all returned to St Peter and the Airport Playing Fields, alongside Jersey’s girls squad and the junior mixed-touch squad.

All teams were limited to a group size of 35 under the Government of Jersey’s latest pandemic-recovery framework.

‘It was absolutely fabulous to be back,’ said M&Js chairwoman Michelle Clark.

‘We did this up until December when we went into lockdown, so really we’ve just picked up from where we left off, with a few minor adjustments. But the kids were all thrilled to be back. There were so many smiles and happy faces and the pitches were in terrific shape because nobody has been on them. We had pitches 2, 4 and 5 at the club and two pitches at the Airport, with two sessions so we could accommodate everyone.

‘Unfortunately we haven’t been able to have parents along as spectators because it would increase the numbers too much. We’ve had to ask them to just drop their children off, which has worked well but it will be nice when we can welcome some of them back to watch. It is all part of the atmosphere.’

Discussing the club’s recent discussions with Twickenham officials, Clark said: ‘We have had to get special permission from the RFU to play, because they have said “no rugby” for anybody else in the UK at the moment. They are happy for us to return, based on where we are with the virus, and they’re asking us to keep an eye on things like whether we see any injuries or how much we think the kids have lost through lockdown. We’ll then feedback to them so they can use our data when they start back in the UK.

‘I think they’re happy that somebody is playing rugby somewhere, because as far as I’m aware nobody else is. Hopefully we can inform what happens and they will learn from our experience.’

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