05:00PM, Thursday 29 April 2021
Maidenhead RFC are gearing up for an action-packed month of May starting with a Ready4Rugby touch tournament at Braywick Park on Saturday before going head-to-head with Oxford Harlequins and Oxford University in a few weeks time.
Monday marked a notable day in the calendar for community rugby clubs across England as matches against other local sides were given the green light to be played under stage D2 of the Return to Rugby roadmap.
This weekend, Maidenhead will welcome Tring, and their Seniors and Colts sides, to battle under the RFU’s adapted rules of rugby including the removal of scrums and mauls.
Then, Maids will travel to play an Oxford Harlequins side on May 22 for a more competitive version of the sport before playing Oxford University on home turf the following weekend and Harlequins again the next.
The next phase of the RFU's return to rugby roadmap will allow full-contact matches to take place, although some off-field restrictions will still apply.
If the Government and RFU are in agreement a full lifting of restrictions is expected to come later in the year
For now though, Maids’ head coach, David Mobbs-Smith is just pleased to see players from all sections of the club back on the pitch and enjoying themselves once again.
“They’re flying at the moment,” he said.
“Since we’ve been able to return and train together again, the social aspect has been amazing.
“This weekend, we host a touch tournament against Tring and a couple of our own sides.
“Then from May 22, we play Oxford Harlequins away, Oxford University at home, and then Harlequins at home again.
“Right up until June, we have lots going on.
“We have no qualms about playing in a touch tournament again while we’re trying to get back into our best physical condition to play contact.
“Tring have been one of those clubs, like us, that have been working hard to get players back when we’ve been allowed to and happy to participate in whatever rugby we’re allowed to.
“When we went down to their place [for the last Ready4Rugby competition] they had even erected a marquee and everything so players could sit at tables of six and all that kind of stuff.
“They’re one of those clubs who have been desperate to keep open and keep playing. So, like spirits, we’ve ended up playing each other in this adapted touch version that has been created by the RFU and which has been a lot of fun actually.”
On returning to the full-contact version of the sport, Mobbs-Smith added: “That part of the game was taken away from us for quite a long time so to be able to play, what the lads consider, a competitive rugby match against the Oxford teams is going to be brilliant.”
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