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Rugby restart for Vale clubs


Eighteen months have passed since grassroots rugby was put into lockdown.

The WRU called a halt to domestic competition at the start of the COVID pandemic in March 2020, which left the Vale's teams facing their longest close season in history.

But now, as restrictions ease, local rugby is finally getting back into the gear. And fittingly, the restart was marked by a derby clash on Wednesday night.

A welcome crowd at the Cwrt-y-Vil Playing Fields saw Penarth took on Old Penarthians in the first game of the WRU Bowl, which has a new format of district-based pool competitions.

It was Penarth who eased to a 48-7 victory, with George Roberts running in two of the eight tries. The rest were scored by Rhys Benyon, Tom Griffiths, Rhys Morgan, Nathan Frost, Will Hardy and Alex Shore.

Most of the county's clubs will be marking their return to competitive action on Saturday.

Llantwit Major warmed up for their official restart with friendly wins over Maesteg and Gilfach Goch last month. The Blood and Blacks start their 'Road to the Bowl' against Clwb Rygbi Cymry Caerdydd at Boverton Road (12.30pm kick off).

The WRU Plate also begins with an all-Vale clash, when Barry take on Dinas Powys in Pool B2 (2pm kick off at The Reservoir Fields)

The Bombers may well have spoken for every community club in Wales recently, when they stated on the club's website: ''The prospect of returning to some form of normality next season I am sure is what is keeping us all going at the moment.''

''The past 17 months have been both difficult and unprecedented for us all. However, we must remain positive and grateful that we have a sport that gives us all such an enormous amount of distraction and pleasure. Above all else, we have a club and grounds that gives us a sense of pride and belonging.''

Like most teams, Dinas Powys have played a number of pre-season friendlies over the summer. Last week, they ran out 33-7 winners against near neighbours Penarth.

Cowbridge waited a little longer before returning to the field last Saturday, when they lost 17-0 to Bridgend Athletic in a tough pre-season opener. Their first pool game in the Plate is a visit to Taffs Well (2.30pm kick off)

The restart coincides with Wales' move to COVID Alert Level Zero, as most Government restrictions - but not all - are scrapped.

Welsh Rugby Union

This week, the WRU released new guidelines for clubs, who can amend their Return to Rugby protocols, so long as they adhere to measures still in place, and have completed an internal risk assessment.

The guidance, published on the Welsh Rugby Union website, states: ''While Level 0 means that there will no longer be a legal requirement to comply with certain measures such as face coverings and social distancing, the Welsh Rugby Union, along with the National Sporting Group, strongly urges clubs to assess their own circumstances when completing their risk assessment to ensure they can provide a safe environment for players, volunteers and spectators for training and matchdays.''

WRU chair Rob Butcher said: ''We are very grateful to our clubs, teams and their army of volunteers who have been essential in helping us to restart rugby gradually, safely and successfully in recent months.''

''We ask everyone in the game to assist these volunteers over the coming weeks and months in adhering to the recommended guidance but also our rugby values so that we can continue to work towards returning to the full game we all love.''

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