Customarily, our end of season message to you is written in the month of May. In recent years, our messages reflected upon a season’s worth of progress, achievements and delight at securing further silverware. We would also look forward to the future with a real clarity of purpose about what we wanted to achieve in the months ahead.
But this is no ordinary end of season message and these are most certainly no ordinary times.
On Friday, the Welsh Rugby Union informed us that the 2019-2020 season had been cancelled with immediate effect. With that, any hope of achieving our long-held ambition of securing a return to the Indigo Premiership was obliterated in the blink of an eye.
Naturally, we are utterly devastated for all those who have worked so tirelessly to transform Pontypool RFC from a fallen giant to a phoenix rising from the ashes.
We think of our volunteers, who have stood by us every step of the way over the last eight years. The pride they have felt this season in knowing that the club’s long-term future at Pontypool Park was secured was a delight to see. They truly are the heartbeat of our club and we are so fortunate to have them on the journey with us.
We think of our management, rugby staff and medical team, who have consistently demonstrated the values required to develop a club that achieves great things on the field, but in the right way. They have worked so hard to keep moving forward, to keep improving and to keep driving standards. They have been exceptional.
We think of our squad, many of whom have been with us since we started this journey back in 2012. Time and time again, so many of our players rejected offers of temptation from established Premiership clubs whilst being in the knowledge that the club was stuck in the National Championship for several seasons due to ring-fencing. They wanted to play in the Premiership, but wanted to do so whilst representing Pontypool RFC. Sadly, several of these fine players are reaching the end of their careers and will now never have that chance to experience Premiership rugby. We are devasted for them.
Notwithstanding this, we feel strongly that all of us have a duty to keep a sense of perspective about this.
First and foremost, we fully support the Welsh Rugby Union in this matter and we would kindly ask that you too accept this with good grace and empathise with those who were tasked with making such a monumental decision. We are a club that always strives to react to adversity in the right way and this situation is no exception.
We readily accept that the COVID-19 pandemic goes far beyond rugby and everybody’s first priority should be to show compassion and stick together.
This is why our end of season message is very simple. This is not the end for Pontypool RFC.
This is clearly a very fast-moving situation and there are some enormous challenges that lay ahead. More than ever before, we understand how vital it is that we both show the leadership required that gives everybody the confidence that the club is in the best possible hands.
In the days, weeks and months ahead – we will act decisively to ensure the business remains in a stable position and we know how important it will be that we keep offering you cause for hope in these darkest of times.
All we ask of you in return is that you take care of yourselves and each other. Of course, we want to realise our dream of taking this great club to the Premiership, but we want to do so by having each and every one of you on that journey with us being safe and well.
So, please. Take this pandemic seriously. Practice social distancing, follow the guidelines issued by the government and let us all ensure we look after those working in our hospitals, emergency services, schools, local authorities and food stores in the weeks and months ahead.
The more we show these positive qualities, the sooner we can look to the future with excitement and optimism once again.
Do take care and we shall see you again soon.
Peter and Ben Jeffreys.