Rugby club aim to bounce back following league cancellation

Smiles as Primary aged youngsters enjoy the game with a regular mini-rigby session at Banavie on Saturday morning. Photograph: Iain Ferguson,

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Lochaber Rugby Club are hunkering down and moving forward following confirmation from Scottish Rugby that the 2020/21 season, due to start in January next year, has been cancelled.

Newly appointed club president and former 1st XV captain Charlie Donaldson said the club were very disappointed and that keeping the players motivated would now be a priority.

‘The announcement did not come as a total surprise considering all that is happening with the Pandemic,’ he told the Lochaber Times.

‘Morale had been fairly good within the squad who were looking forward to January so they could get some games. For it now to be cancelled altogether is a big set back but you can understand the reasons behind the decision. It is up to the club now to keep the boys motivated and keep the rugby camaraderie alive in Lochaber.’

The governing body made its announcement last Wednesday with Scottish Rugby’s board supporting the recommendation to close 2020/21 competitive fixtures at all levels of the club and school game due to the national impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent public health guidelines now in place.

‘We have a young team of great guys and this year for them is now just a write-off but they will, because of their youth and determination, bounce back and post this year into their history,’ continued Charlie.

‘They are still training hard and keeping fit which is great credit to them in these hard times.

‘Credit must go to head coach Gary Hendry for keeping the boys motivated, and also the youth section where Stevie McAleer and his team are keeping things going.

‘There is a really good turn out from the boys and girls every Saturday morning and they should all be applauded for all their efforts.’

The club’s financial position has also been threatened by the lack of game time but Charlie and his team are confident that they can keep things going with a bit of support.

‘Covid has been a total financial disaster for the club,’ he stated.

‘We have not made any money this year as we have not been open at all. Our expenses have not been too bad though as we have not had teams from any age travelling which is our main expenditure but we are still having to pay bills that come in which has a big effect on our bank balance.

‘We will survive though as we are a very strong community-driven club and have a wide range of members from all over Lochaber, who are looking forward to getting us back running as normal.

‘Our fundraising team is diversifying and is always looking for new ways, different ideas out of the norm, to make funds and grants available to help keep us afloat which is also a credit to them.’

Despite their own concerns, the club did manage to help out the young Kilmallie Beaver Scouts recently when the group was looking to hold an outdoor, socially distanced, games night.

‘All sports clubs will be having these issues so hopefully we all survive and keep sport alive in the Highlands,’ concluded Charlie.

Despite the cancellation of the revised competitive league programme, Scottish Rugby aims to facilitate friendly fixtures in the months ahead, at a time when it is safe to do so.