Fylde RFC cancel Blackburn matches as long wait for return to rugby action goes on

Fylde RFC have cancelled this month’s planned friendlies against Blackburn amid concerns over the latest developments in the pandemic.

Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 4:55 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 4:57 pm

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It’s a huge disappointment to all concerned with the Woodlands club, which was eagerly looking forward to staging its first matches for fourteen-and-a-half months on the next two Saturdays.

However, concerns over the new Covid variant, which is prominent in the Blackburn area, prompted the decision to avoid any risks associated with playing full-contact sport and opening grounds to the public.

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Hopes for a return to rugby action at Fylde have suffered yet another setback

The plan was for the first and second-team squads of the two clubs to play at Blackburn’s Ramsgreave Drive ground this Saturday afternoon, while teams consisting of third and fourth-team players met at the Woodlands.

The fixtures would have been reversed on May 29, with Fylde hosting the senior game.

Fylde resumed training at the end of March to prepare for these games, which the players were relishing to salvage something from a frustrating season.

The Blackburn fixtures were scheduled for the first two weekends after the easing of lockdown restrictions, allowing spectators to attend.

However, Fylde chairman Mike Brennand told The Gazette. “We’ve cancelled the games, not for any rugby reason but because of the situation with the variant. It would not be responsible to encourage people to travel.

“We are all bitterly disappointed and for the players that’s an understatement, though they understand our reasons.

“It would have mean nice to have played matches and got people into the ground, but we don’t want to be seen as irresponsible or setting a poor example in any way.

“The situation could change during the week but we couldn’t leave the decision any later and these are not essential fixtures.”

It means training will stop and the players will report back for a normal pre-season in July ahead of a National Two North campaign due to begin at Tynedale on September 4.

The first team last played on March 7 2020 and attempts to stage any matches this season were thwarted at every turn.

All plans for a league season were abandoned in November, then a proposed New Year tournament for all National League clubs was stymied by lockdown.

And now the cancellation of the Blackburn games has left the senior squad facing a 17-month gap between matches ahead of pre-season friendlies in August.

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