Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Juniors put through their paces on return to training

Juniors put through their paces on return to training

JUNIORS at Henley Rugby Club returned to training at the weekend.

It was the first time they had been back to Dry Leas, the home of the Henley Hawks, since January due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Government began to lift lockdown restrictions on Monday last week, which allowed contact training to take place, with the exception of mauls and scrums.

Full contact training is set to be reintroduced on May 17 with adult matches to start from June 7.

On Sunday, the U8s, U7s and U6s returned to training at 9am for one hour.

The club invited Bruce Simpson, a Maori performer who runs haka team-building workshops, to welcome back the U8s

Haka is a Maori ceremonial war dance involving chanting performed by New Zealand rugby teams before a match.

Rick Oakley, team manager of the U8s, said: “Mr Simpson taught them about the history of the haka and about 100 kids attended — it was incredible watching it.

“All these kids signed up for rugby and we haven’t been able to do it so on Sundays we’ve been doing rugby fitness sessions over Zoom with James Waite, head coach of the U11s, and it keeps them moving in their gardens or living rooms. It has been really nice but it’s not the same as the real thing. Now they can be here with their mates.”

The juniors also took part in a warm-up before practising their ball-passing and team-working skills.

Mr Oakley said it was nice to have everyone back together again.

He said: “You miss the community side of things as families would normally stay and have some bacon butties and a chat but we can’t do that now.

“Overall, we’ve done very well and when we couldn’t meet we kept the Sunday slot open for them to do things virtually. We utilised YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and we even made some Tik Tok videos.”

Due to coronavirus restrictions, rugby clubs have lost three months of training.

Mr Oakley said he hoped that the season would be extended.

He said: “We want to extend it until May, maybe June, so people can get the most from their memberships.

“We’re talking to some of the volunteers groups as it’s volunteer-led — we’re all dads, but our concern is that other sports start up soon like cricket and we don’t want to step on their toes but we do want to give something back to the guys.”

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