RUGBY clubs in Ludlow and Tenbury are counting down the days until they are allowed to end almost a year without on-field action due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Both Ludlow RFC and Tenbury RFC have been back in training this month, preparing for friendly fixtures to start at the end of January.

The Government gave the green light earlier in December for the sport to restart in 2021 although all leagues have been suspended until the autumn, meaning only friendly matches are allowed for now.

“It’s a weird one, starting pre-season in the middle of December has been very strange,” admitted Mikey Jones, head coach of Midlands One West outfit Ludlow.

“Some of the boys are champing at the bit and other boys are like ‘it’s the middle of December on a horrible night doing fitness training and lots of tackling!’

“We are doing a lot of contact in training just to get the boys up to scratch, with a bit of fitness in among that.”

Regional rugby chiefs have organised ‘cluster fixture pools’ so teams play sides of similar abilities with Hereford, Droitwich, Worcester, Newport, Clee Hill and Luctonians among Ludlow’s opponents.

But games must be modified with, for example, no scrums allowed in order to minimise occurrences of prolonged close contact and lessen the chances of infection being spread.

“There’s a lot of moaning, especially from the front row who just love to scrum and that’s all they want to do,” smiled Jones.

“But the option is either no rugby or this adapted game so we’re just happy to get on the pitch and get some contact going.”

The cancellation of the 2020/21 campaign has been particularly irritating for promoted teams like Tenbury Wells, who were eager to test themselves up at Midlands Three level.

“It’s going to be a very long waiting game until we get back to the proper game but it’s in the interest of everyone to be sensible about this,” said Tenbury director of rugby Andy Black.

“We just have to accept that it’s a game and that there are far more important things to be concerned about at the moment.

“But for us to get promotion and then not to be able to play in that league is frustrating.”

Black is keeping his fingers crossed that the planned restart goes ahead next month, given the recent rise of Covid-19 cases across the country.

“It’s all going to depend on what’s going to happen in the next couple of weeks after the Christmas period,” he added.

“It is difficult because you are always looking over your shoulder waiting for the Government to possibly put the kibosh on it because of the uncertainty of this pandemic.”