Dear Neath RFC Supporters,
The old Chinese wish “May you live in interesting times” certainly came true in 2020 and that may be considered rather appropriate by those (not all agree) who claim that the Coronavirus derived from Wuhan bats in that country.
Rugby followers will not concur as 2020 has not been anything like as interesting for those of us who have been starved of seeing our club in action.
However, we enter the festive month with a little overdue hope in the air at last.
That hope derives from the announcement that not one but three vaccines have been found to counter the dreaded Coronvirus crisis with one available immediately.
Maybe at last we can begin to look forward to a resumption of proper Club rugby soon. However, the vaccine will be given to older and at risk people first – and not to too many rugby players !
It is encouraging to touch/tag rugby played again – a relief for the minis at least but there is a pressing need to get safe junior and youth rugby back too and the wait for senior rugby continues…
Last week, District ‘D’ clubs heard that the WRU has been pushing its case for financial help from the Senedd – and surely Welsh rugby deserves parity with England ?
In fact, I’d say parity-plus as Welsh rugby fulfils a bigger community role. The RFU have been given massive financial help and many clubs can have crowds to watch friendlies which will commence there from December 18. It would be nice if Welsh clubs were to get parity-plus all round !
Our decision-makers have an onerous task but it is galling to see local soccer being played when we cannot. So hats off to one rugby club that played soccer against its village team, also to the intrepid rugby side who are playing cricket instead !
The RFU are introducing temporary laws to get the contact game (minus scrums and mauls) going which is far more preferable and meaningful than touch rugby.
Whatever changes are introduced will be controversial but, if Wales can follow suit, at least we might get some recognisable rugby !
Last week, the Neath squad trained at The Gnoll and will do so again before Christmas to ensure that fitness levels and team spirit are maintained.
Rest assured, as soon as we get the go-ahead to start organising games, Neath RFC will be fast out of the blocks. Our priority remains the health of our players, supporters and everyone connected with the Club.
As far as the Clubhouse is concerned, the current Coronavirus restrictions demand that we cannot serve alcohol presently. The decision is due for review from December 17 but don’t bank on it.
So far the WRU has managed to maintain cash support to Clubs for which we are very grateful and some televised rugby action has been possible via the national XV and the regions – although it must be said that there has been precious little to celebrate !
Wales followed warm-up defeats by France and Scotland by starting the new Autumn Nations Cup by losing in Ireland. The expected win over Georgia was followed by defeat by England then another predicable, if unimpressive, win over Italy who included scrum half Stephen Varney (son of former Neath flanker Adrian).
The injury suffered by Alun Wyn Jones is alarming for country and region and Wales ended fifth in the Autumn Nations Cup where results exactly mirrored the 2020 Six Nations and with 3 wins (Italy twice and Georgia) out of 10 in 2020.
Our regions are not setting the world on fire and nothing suggests that the established pecking order of Irish, then Scots and Welsh ahead of Italians will be greatly disturbed.
The excuse of missing players does not stand up as all sides in the Pro 14/12/16 are similarly hit by international calls and arguably the Scots and Italians (with two pro sides each) are hit even harder. Things may worsen if the four top South African sides join !
So, as Christmas approaches, vaccinations offer real hope – but remember it was misplaced optimism which may have made this crisis worse than it should have been.
The virus is still very much with us, more so than before in the Neath area, and we must continue to guard against it until the vaccine arrives.
In wishing you a very Merry Christmas from all at Neath RFC, we must all believe that it will end and rugby will return soon. Any developments will appear on this Web-site; otherwise, our next Newsletter will be the first of 2021 which must surely be better than 2020.
Celebrate your Happy Christmas carefully and please Stay Safe.
Rugby Secretary – Neath RFC