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Message from Pontypool RFC following 2020-2021 season cancellation

Sunday 20th December 2020

To the Pooler Army,

I hope you’re all keeping safe and well during these unsettling times.

I just wanted to follow up personally with you all following the news on Friday that the Welsh Rugby Union has cancelled the 2020-2021 league programme.

As you will have seen from the club’s statement, whilst the news is disappointing, we do fully support the WRU in the very difficult decision they have reached and I wanted to expand a little bit on why we’ve taken this view.

First and foremost, we accept that COVID-19 is a potentially life threatening virus. There are many conspiracy theories that, in my personal opinion, are having a negative impact on how some are approaching this pandemic. With our NHS and other key services being stretched to their limits - we didn’t want to say anything that would give the impression that we’d be back to business as usual any time soon.

Because of this - we have made a conscious effort to not give you false hope and we have tried to communicate responsibly at all times over the last nine months. This is why we have not released any news on squad developments thus far.

The primary reason for that is this. Many of our volunteers are of an age that makes them particularly vulnerable to suffering ill-effects should they contract COVID. Furthermore, a good proportion of our supporters also fall into that category. Without them and you - the heartbeat of the club is gone. That is something we simply aren’t prepared to risk losing. You’re all far more important to us than any rugby match.

Alongside this, given the current spread of the virus, we would not be confident that we could bring our staff and squad together to train or play rugby in a way that could be considered safe. COVID testing at our level of the game is entirely cost-prohibitive and given that almost all of our team have secondary employment - it is simply impossible for us to form our own bubble like you’re currently seeing at a professional level. That is the key difference here.

Above all else - we have been impacted by COVID-19 directly. Several people within the club have contracted the virus over the course of the pandemic and some of them have suffered very badly as a result. It’s easy to dismiss COVID if you haven’t been impacted directly by it, but it’s real and poses a real threat to our communities.

Quite simply - whilst we miss rugby - it’s not a priority to us at the moment. Our sole focus is ensuring everyone connected to the club stays safe and well so that when rugby does eventually return - you’re all there to enjoy the next chapter of our journey. This will not last forever. Rugby will return one day. When it does, we’ll be ready to go again.

I fully appreciate that many of you will be anxious about what the future holds for the club. Yes, there are unknowns. But I’m confident we are equipped with the people and expertise required to navigate through these challenges down the line.

As always, we’ll continue to keep you posted on developments as they arise in the weeks and months ahead - but for now, it just leaves me to say that I hope you remain well - please take this pandemic seriously - and have as pleasant a festive season as possible.

We’ll see you all again soon.

Best wishes,

Ben Jeffreys

Chief Executive Officer


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