Community Focus with North Berwick RFC
Following Edinburgh Rugby's recent kit donation to a number of local clubs, Community Coach Andrew Whitelaw has been getting the low down on how the kit is being used, and how the clubs are coping in the current Covid-19 pandemic.
This week, our Community Team caught up with North Berwick Rugby Development Officer, Mark Coull, who discussed the impact of the ongoing pandemic on the East Lothian club, and how they'll benefit from Edinburgh Rugby's recent donation of 2019-20 Macron kit.
How have North Berwick been coping during the pandemic and what measures have they taken to keep rugby going during the new normal?
Since the initial lockdown the club, and its volunteers have been working hard to ensure that rugby was playing a significant part in the community during these challenging times.
During the full lockdown we established the NBRFC Return to Play Group. This ensured that we were ready to go when we were officially cleared to train by Scottish Rugby. Our plan also covered everything to do with our facilities.
The new normal means that our players are frequently using hand gel, our coaches disinfecting balls before, during and after the sessions and the "NBRFC Social Distancing Police" are at work every Saturday morning reminding parents and guardians what two metres from each other and five metres from the pitch look like... with a big smile!
In spite of the restrictions on players numbers at that time it was a great success, the social touch continued when the senior team returned to training before the restrictions put an end to that.
The social touch saw around 20 players who had been lost to the game for a while return, and they are waiting for the restrictions to be lifted so they can resume on the monday nights, 7pm at the Rec in North Berwick.
The high school/ youth club players were the first to return to rugby the first time on the 18th of July at the rec, under what felt like very different conditions, that we are all very aware of. And although the number of players per bubble hampered coaches initially, the players through this phase developed their skills and enjoyed playing small sided games.
The minis resumed rugby in late September, and not only sustained the number of players that were coming along but in fact grew player numbers. We thankfully saw over 26 P1 players join on the first day.
The girls section at the club has also continued to grow, we can now field an U12 and U14, next season this should allow us to field an U12, U14 & U16 team.
How have the players and club staff come together during this period – have they been able to stay connected virtually and what volunteering has gone on to keep rugby alive?
During the time we haven’t been able to train together, we have done our best to ensure that players have something to keep active with. We have used the expertise of Jason Martin the youth section S&C coach by putting on challenges for the players to do.
The completed challenge has equated to points each week, and on some of the weeks we have begun to use the generous donation of Edinburgh Rugby kit as prizes.
What does it mean to the club and players to get the kit donation during this difficult period?
The kit donation has been a great help to both the club and the players, it’s helping keep the players motivated when competing in the challenges.
The longer that we can’t work with the players directly the harder it will be for them to stay motivated, the prospect of some kit worn by the players is helping to keep the players going.
What will the club use the kit for and it will help raise any funds for the players or club itself?
We are unsure as of yet what we will do with the funds raised from the additional kit, the money raised is likely to be spent on the youth section of the club to continue to ensure that we make every provision that is possible for the youth players as possible.
Across the minis and girls we see 200 players enjoying their rugby around the club on Saturday mornings and that is testament to the work that goes in from our Return to Rugby group and the support from Scottish Rugby to keep our sessions safe.
I’m delighted that North Berwick Minis enjoy a very healthy relationship with Edinburgh Rugby and are grateful for all the support. This kit donation will enable further investment in the future, aiming to afford the players the opportunity to follow a long line of North Berwick minis to represent Edinburgh Rugby or Scotland Women in the future.
What is the club’s target in 2021 and how are they working towards that goal?
The clubs target on the field is to ensure we have as many people enjoying the sport in whatever guise it is we can, off the field we are continuing to try and play a part in the local community.