Fylde Rugby players eager to return to training and play friendlies
The Fylde RFC first-team squad will restart training on Thursday, having given their unanimous approval to the idea of playing matches in May.
Joint head coach Chris Briers told The Gazette that “everybody is excited” about being reunited at the Woodlands this week as lockdown restrictions start to ease, with the added incentive of some local friendlies before the season is out.
Thursday brings the squad’s first formal session for five months and the first overseen by Briers and fellow team boss Alex Loney since they replaced Warren Spragg.
Briers told The Gazette: “The plan is just to do one session a week to begin with, then we could look to increase that to two depending on how things go.
“Everyone is excited. We’ve spoken to all the players and listened to what they have to say. We know they are all really keen to get back to the club as soon as they can and they want to play in May if at all possible.
“The season is potentially dead and so it was really important for us to listen to what the players had to say. Now we know that they want to play, we will do everything we can to facilitate that.”
Chairman Mike Brennand told The Gazette last week about plans to stage May matches against local opposition for the benefit of players deprived of match action for more than 12 months.
Brennand added that if those matches had to be behind closed doors and under adapted rules then so be it, though the government’s ‘roadmap’ does include the possibility of limited crowds attending sports events from May 17.
Briers added: “When we started to agree contracts with players for next season, one of the questions we asked was whether they would be interested in playing some games before the end of this season and everyone said yes.
“There was no pressure on them, we didn’t force the issue and we made it clear that the focus is on next season, but they were unanimous that they would like to play some games if they were offered.
“If we could get people in and raise some revenue, then it would be great for the club but there are huge benefits just from playing again and getting everybody reconnected.”
Briers reiterated that regular training and some matches in the next two months would greatly ease the pre-season pressures before the National League campaign starts in September.
He explained: “If we didn’t start again now, you would have to question whether the usual pre-season and the usual couple of friendlies would be enough preparation after such a long time away.
“Having these training sessions and hopefully a couple of games means we can potentially plan for a normal pre-season from July, and get rid of the fear of trying to do too much in pre-season.”
After such a period away, Briers knows the resumption of training must be handled with care, saying: “The plan is for everyone to enjoy rugby again and have some fun sessions, hopefully building up to some games towards the end of May.”
The club has, this week, announced that forwards Phill Mills and Elliot Horner have re-signed for the 2021/22 campaign.
Both have kept very busy over the past year, flanker Mills as head of community for the Fylde Rugby Community Foundation charity and prop Horner developing his microbrewery business.
Briers said: “A lot of players have been busy with new ventures and developing businesses. Elliot’s really excited about what he is doing with his brewery and Phill has been able to put a lot of time and effort into his community role.
“He has 120 or 130 people signed up for the Easter rugby camps the foundation is running and he is really positive about that challenge.”