By Joe Mansfield
SPORT is used in society as an outlet of frustration and a form of escapism from reality. Rugby is no different, in particular, it has a culture of belonging and a camaraderie that means more than the 80 minutes of physical attrition. It provides men and women with an opportunity to relate to and confide in each other.
Competitive grassroots rugby has been absent for nearly nine months now and it is taking it’s toll on players. The Welsh Rugby Union have announced plans for the staged return of rugby, starting with touch-rugby games that can take place with immediate effect.
Go-ahead for friendly tag and touch rugby matches within WRU District boundaries
Move welcomed with @WRU_Community game urged to stay vigilant in order to proceed further with Return to Rugby plan
🗞️FULL STORY https://t.co/4jkv0E5mGx pic.twitter.com/gI6vhYjnXp
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) November 25, 2020
For many Welsh towns the rugby club is the hub of the community and being away from what is – for a lot of people – their second family, for a prolonged period of time can be a mentally challenging time.
Carl Mahoney, a physiotherapist at Beddau RFC and USW Duty Officer described the impact the break has had on his players.
“It’s impacted them massively; I speak to the players on a regular basis as part of my role and you can see the difference in them.
“Some of them have lost all interest with sport, some of them are even losing interest with everything. They are just sitting in their homes and not engaging with people.”
Mahoney has witnessed first-hand the distress that being without sport can cause, going forward he hopes to see the game return gradually and safely.
“Hopefully we are going to have touch rugby competitions with other clubs in the area or inter-club games and allow clubs to get back training and hopefully start playing some games.
“It’s all on the clubs, I know they are quite scared, really, of getting back because of Covid-19 and we don’t know how to deal with it or how it’s going to affect us going further forward.”
Traditionally, university students join societies and sporting groups to socialise and adapt to life away from home. This element of life in higher education has been impaired by the outbreak as large social gatherings have been prohibited.
While working at the home of the university’s sport at the USW Sport Park in Treforest, the Duty Officer has seen the benefits sport can have upon the students.
“It’s a lot better for their mental health and well-being. Just engaging with each other. We as a university have provided extra facilities for them.
“We’ve put on a bit of play sport for the students, so we have managed to engage with them over the last couple of weeks.
“With the sports teams coming back it’s going to give them an opportunity to come back and actually play sport.”
You can watch the full interview with Mahoney by clicking here.
USW students can learn more about the return of sport by contacting email@example.com.