Good evening everyone,
I hope you’re continuing to keep safe and well and you’re enjoying the last weeks of summer.
In ordinary circumstances, this weekend would have heralded the start of the 2020-2021 season. This would have also been mine and Dad’s tenth season leading Pontypool RFC since we took over the running of the club in 2012.
Throughout that time, we’ve faced many challenges. There have been high points and low points, but our objective has always been very clear – to take Pontypool RFC back to the Indigo Premiership and succeed at the highest level of Welsh club rugby.
Clearly, I don’t need to remind you of what we lost when the 2019-2020 season was cancelled back in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With a five-point lead at the top of the National Championship table and being in the midst of a 63-game league winning run, we were well placed to finally become a Premiership team once again.
Had this transpired, this week would have seen the beginning of the next chapter in our story.
I’m sure I haven’t been alone in pondering what could’ve been this week. I’ve sat there and imagined being at Pontypool Park, with ‘the bank’ filled by a sea of red, white and black and peppered with black and amber as we welcomed the likes of Newport RFC back to our home for what have always been truly monumental Gwent derbies.
But before I allow my mind to wander too far into the finer details of the day, I’m always struck by the harshness of what has become our ‘new normal’ and new way of life.
As we all know, the reality is there is no rugby. At a time when we’re all usually so excited about coming back together, we must continue to stay apart.
Of course, this concerns me greatly. For so many of us, our rugby club keeps us connected to friends and family. The sense of community and belonging sport brings can have a transformative impact on our lives and I am deeply saddened for all our volunteers, supporters and staff who are currently missing that portion of purpose from their lives.
With this in mind, there is one thing I strongly wish to convey in this update.
Please know that, although we are currently apart from each other and aren’t able to build on our recent successes, you all remain part of the story at Pontypool RFC and you have not been forgotten.
This club is not going anywhere. You have my continued assurance that when rugby eventually returns, we will be ready.
So, to the supporter who watches games from their favourite spot in Pontypool Park, your seat will be there when we return.
To the volunteer who arrives at Pontypool Park at 10am every match day to serve their club in any way possible, your role will be there when we can be together again.
But in order for this to come to fruition, we must share a collective responsibility to keep a sense of perspective about what is most important during these very unsettling times.
All of us should continue to follow the advice of the Welsh Government. Whether that be to wear a mask, continue to practice social distancing measures, or self-isolating if developing symptoms of COVID-19 – we all have to play our part if life as we knew it will ever return to normal.
As a club, we continue to work on the assumption that rugby will not resume in 2020. From our perspective, we will place absolutely no pressure on governing bodies to return to normal operations too soon. We fully trust that the Welsh Rugby Union and Welsh Government will know when the time is right for us to get back to business.
Until then, where we cannot currently continue our record of making forward momentum on the field, we will ensure we are making positive progress off the field in preparation for an eventual return to play.
Internally, we are using the current period of inactivity to continue with our plans to re-vitalise Pontypool Park and I look forward to hopefully sharing a further update on our ambitions in the weeks ahead.
In respect of our rugby operations, I’m pleased to share that we have a fully assembled team of management and playing squad members and I’m very excited about what the future holds in terms of our prospects for success in the years ahead.
I mentioned in a previous update that we hoped to share further details on who will be with us next season in the weeks ahead, however we are currently holding back for now whilst we find out further details from the Welsh Rugby Union about when rugby can resume. It seems clear that the next couple of months will be crucial in mapping out when this will be and I appreciate your continued patience whilst we navigate through this process.
You have my word that we will share further details with you as soon as we’re able to, but I hope this update will give you further assurance that the club is coping well with these challenges.
Until then, please continue to stay safe and as always, I thank you for your unwavering commitment to Pontypool RFC.
Chief Executive Officer