Opinion: Bedford Blues’ Will Hooley talks about RFU’s reaction to coronavirus

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Bedford Blues generic holding card

The Rugby Football Union (RFU), released in a statement on Monday (16 March), that “all rugby activity in England, at both professional and community level” will be suspended until 17 April.

The inevitable perhaps, particularly after governments, including the UK, across the world have taken measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

What was a conversation amongst a minority a few weeks ago, is now Britain’s biggest discussion.

Worry usually comes from uncertainty, a pandemic couldn’t have more ambiguity surrounding it.

I’m sure there may be an element of frustration for clubs, players and fans up and down the country.

However, there is certainly more to life than the oval ball and rugby is being a good citizen and making the right call.

Five weeks of definite no fixtures will mean Bedford fans will add more time on to twiddling their thumbs at the weekend.

As a whole there will be limited activity at the club, and all players have clearly been told by the RFU to not get together as a team to train.

The implications for the club, like all others in the UK, is hard to fathom, particularly with the unknown. Will this season ever get to an end point?

Bedford Blues is renowned to be one of the best supported teams in the league, with one of the best home average attendances.

The brand of rugby is usually entertaining, and with the ‘winning’ feeling now back in the Blues this calendar year, the last four home games of the season would undoubtedly be well supported.

Top it all off with the fantastic hospitality suites and functions that the club offers – provided by its warm and energetic staff – you could say the club would be able to financially keep its head above water quite nicely.

COVID-19 will naturally do its worst. Who knows how the RFU comes to the club’s aid during this unquestionably difficult time?

But one thing is for sure, the relationship between the RFU and Championship teams couldn’t be at a more awkward time since the news of the budget cuts last month.

Read: Blues condemn funding decision as Championship Rugby in jeopardy

Unequivocally, this whole situation brings about more questions than answers. There is no two ways about it, for all rugby clubs, as well any local business, this is a difficult time.

So, what about the players? A five-week holiday period? An opportunity to rest, recover and relax?

Of course, all players will take this opportunity to ice up any bumps and recover from any pains.

Blues Squad 2019-20
Blues’ fly-half and Bedford Independent sports journalist, Will Hooley (centre), returned to Goldington Road as part of the 2019/20 squad.

Many will try to maintain fitness at local gyms (so long as they are open) and head down to the park to get a sweat on. Other than that, it is a period of not a lot.

Rugby players are notoriously good at being able to do this, as the average working week may look laughable to some. However, make no mistake the uncertainty lingers within.

A vital time in the year where Bedford and fellow Championship players are vying for contracts has now disintegrated.

The question as to ‘where is my next job’ is trembling on the lips. Those who have spent lengthy periods out injured – ever keen to get back in the fray – now question when their return will be.

Those who are planning to hang up their boots at the end of the season, question whether they’ll get a last hurrah. As has already been said, there are many questions and so little answers.

There is no doubt, there are currently many bigger problems out in the world at the moment as a result of the coronavirus.

However, even within the fun and excitement of the sporting world, negative impact and worry will also occur.

This is not a time to panic. As citizens we will do what we can to prevent the spread and impact of COVID-19. The rugby family will stay strong together. Rugby will be back.

As mentioned in a message by the club today, “at the very heart of Bedford Blues is the concept of family and unity, we urge all supporters to put the well-being of themselves and those around them first.”

Take care. Think of others. Be safe everyone.


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