Drovers still waiting

By Daniel Hughes

The Deni Drovers Rugby Union Club have heard crouch, set, but no engage as the season faced a postponed start due to Coronavirus restrictions.

Ruby Australia (RA) advised all community rugby on March 16 that the code would face the same restrictions imposed on other sports in Australia.

Since then the Drovers’ players have been staying match ready for when the season returns.

‘‘Our players have been maintaining fitness with running, weights (at home), and agility training, until they are allowed to start training together,’’ club president Paul Marshall said.

Before Deniliquin’s sole rugby side can practise their breakdown and back-line formations, they are required to proceed through a checklist released by RA.

Marshall said a ‘Return to Play Framework for Community Rugby’ was released last Friday.

‘‘This incorporates the Australian Institute of Sport Framework for rebooting sport in a COVID-19 environment, along with RA.

‘‘We’re currently at Level A, and expect to remain at this level until at least June 1.

‘‘At that stage we hope to move to Level B. This still requires social distancing, though we can train in pods of up to 10 players with no physical contact.

‘‘The framework we’ve been supplied with is comprehensive, but workable, and so we are ready to go as soon as we’re given the green light.

‘‘Since the announcement last Friday, excitement has increased as our players have, where possible, remained engaged with each other and the club over the past nine weeks.

‘‘While there still needs to be approval of some aspects of the Return to Play framework, all target dates depend on government and health authority announcements.

‘‘To date, these have been positive.’’

Marshall suspects the league will release a shortened season and said the club is eager to bounce back from last season’s grand final blunder.

‘‘Our returning players are looking forward to reasserting themselves in the Romano’s Cup competition, following their disappointment in the 2019 McMullen Cup grand final,’’ he said.

‘‘Our coach (Mark Thompson) is also very eager to make a statement with the limited season we may end up with, and hopefully unleash some new recruits picked up during the pre-season.

‘‘Confidence among the senior players is high,’’ Marshall said.