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Clubs in a quandary amid Covid-19 crisis

Uncharted territory for club rugby teams.

Poverty Bay club rugby coaches are doing their best to adjust to a disrupted pre-season and the postponement of their competition's kick-off amid the Covid-19 crisis.

Some teams had pre-season games lined up for this weekend but had to cancel them after New Zealand Rugby called off community rugby until April 18. Contact training is out until April 13.

Those restrictions came after the Government issued advice that gatherings exceeding 500 people should be cancelled in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus — a clampdown that has since been extended to indoor gatherings of more than 100 people.

OBM premier team coach Trevor Crosby said he would use the new environment to try out some different approaches.

“It's an opportunity to take a step back and look at what we can and cannot do,” he said.

“Life and health come first.

“These are interesting times. How we get through, I'm unsure.”

OBM are the champions and Crosby noted the competition's postponement would give them and the other teams more time to prepare, but the nature of the preparation might have to be “creative”.

Pirates coach Willie Waitoa said adapting amid a rapidly evolving public health and economic crisis was difficult and his attention was more on family than on club rugby.

He noted some of the drastic developments overseas, as the virus takes its toll, and the knock-on results for sport, such as suspension of high-profile leagues.

'No template to copy'

Pirates had planned to play against Tokomaru Bay this weekend but the fixture was scrapped and the club would reassess how to move forward.

“There's no template to copy,” Waitoa said.

“Nobody's been in a predicament like this.”

Waikohu coach Rawiri Broughton said both the club and Te Karaka community had been disrupted by coronavirus fallout.

The Waikohu club was due to host the first round — known as Tiny White Day — for which games are traditionally grouped at a single venue.

Poverty Bay Rugby Football Union has yet to release details about what will happen to Tiny White Day but signalled this week — before the postponement — that it could not go ahead as originally planned because this would have attracted too large a crowd.

Waikohu won the Lee Bros Shield in 2018 for the first time in their history and fell just short of making the final last year.

Broughton said they had hoped to use the Tiny White occasion as a sort of statement that they were on track for this year.

A pre-season game scheduled for this weekend against Wairoa side Tapuae has been cancelled.

Broughton felt his team had been building well and, after a pre-season tournament at Patutahi, they knew what they needed to work on.

Their momentum had been disrupted and priorities from here included keeping up their fitness and maintaining good hygiene practices.

Ngatapa coach Steve Hickey said teams were used to having to adjust because of individual injuries but not having to negotiate an obstacle like Covid-19's broad impact.

“This is a team injury.”

They were to have a team meeting last night to agree on a plan, Hickey said.

“We'll try to keep functioning as best we can with what we're allowed to do.”

People had to keep in mind the wider situation.

“You've got to look after everyone's well-being.”

High School Old Boys manager Jonathan Poole said pre-season training sessions had been halted but players were linked up in a Facebook group and would be encouraged to keep active.

In these uncertain times, they had to emphasise safety and take a wait-and-see approach.

“We'll reassess at the end of the month.”

Poole, also Ormond School principal, said a school triathlon was staged yesterday, although it didn't have its usual atmosphere.

A few parents watched but typically left as soon as their children were done.

YMP coach Brian Leach said his squad started pre-season training sessions in January.

He said everything had changed in the past week, including how the players would greet each other, as customs such as shaking hands were out.

They would discuss their pre-season next Tuesday and Leach said activities might include informal “fun and games” and fitness work.

YMP had to cancel a pre-season game against Mount Maunganui club Arataki.

Pirates coach Willie Waitoa, pictured playing last year against High School Old Boys, says sports teams are facing conditions they've never encountered before. Picture by Paul Rickard