Thu, 24 Dec 2020
NEWBURY Blues head coach Paul Archer was relieved that the club were at last able to play an in-house friendly at Monks Lane last Friday.
Rob Duncan scored a try for the Blues, while two scores from Ben Armstrong saw the Red side take a 10-5 win.
The game was a little different as there were no mauls or scrums, due to Covid-19 guidelines, but it was still an enjoyable evening for the squad.
Archer said: “The game was really good fun and it was so good to see the boys play a competitive rugby game, even though they were lacking scrums and mauls.
“It didn’t really affect the game too much because we have been making use of our time when we’ve been training since July.
“We have been trying to get into a good space for when we can start playing again and I saw that come through on Friday.
“From a coach’s point of view it’s what you want to see and I was pleased for the boys because they have stuck with everything really well.”
It’s the first time that the club have been able to do something like this and Archer believes it helped the morale within the squad.
He said: “It would have been the first time in nine months that some of the boys have had contact and the enthusiasm to play and skill level to play with was fantastic.
“The place was bouncing after and everyone was happy they got to play a game and it was one of my more uplifting moments as a coach.”
The game also provided some new faces to get some minutes under the lights at Monks Lane and the Blues head coach enjoyed that particular side of the game.
He said: “There are some young guys coming through who haven’t been with us for very long and they got the opportunity to show what they’re about in a competitive environment,
“We like to give them the opportunity to develop and show their stuff and it is those guys I am happy for because they’ve committed to the process.
“Hopefully when we do go back to playing competitive games we’ll have a very strong, locally-sourced team that is sustainable in the long-term.”
Blues were looking forward to playing competitive rugby at the start of the New Year, but due to recent announcements it’s looking likely that it won’t happen just yet.
“We’re still waiting for guidance from the RFU, but we think it’ll be similar to what it was,” admitted Archer.
“You can’t travel into a Tier 4 area, which is fine for the boys who are West Berkshire-based, but that isn’t every player.
“We were in a cluster with teams who are in Tier 2 and now it means we can’t go and play them and it’ll be difficult to see how we can start on time.”
Newbury Ladies were also in action at Monks Lane on Friday night as they ran in seven tries on the way to a 43-0 victory over Farnham RFC.