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Ponty Rugby Covid-19 status update

In December 2019 the world’s media began reporting an outbreak of ‘pneumonia’ in the City of Wuhan in the Hubei Province of China. At this time most of us could be forgiven for being distracted by the preparations for Christmas and its associated celebrations, not least of which was the keenly-anticipated re-match against our traditional rivals Cardiff RFC, scheduled for the 28th of the month.

By early January 2020, pneumonia had been eliminated from the investigation and a novel coronavirus, subsequently designated Covid-19, was identified. On 13th January 2020, Thai officials reported the first imported case of laboratory-confirmed human to human transmission. The announcement sent shockwaves through the global scientific community as it realised that a new highly-infectious disease had the potential to inflict a deadly pandemic.

By mid-March, a group of British Epidemiologists (epidemiology is the study of the causes and distribution of diseases) had completed their mathematical modelling predicting that the pandemic could be responsible for causing the deaths of approximately 550,000 UK citizens or about 0.9% of the population, if there was no Government intervention.

We are now aware that there was Government intervention that included closure of non-essential facilities, case isolation and population-wide social distancing. The on-going debate regarding the extent and effectiveness of the interventions may be contentious as, on radio phone-ins and chat shows there are almost as many opinions as there are individuals providing them! Nonetheless, the suppression of the mortality rate provides little comfort to those who have lost loved ones and friends. Pontypridd RFC reiterates its sincerest condolences to those within our community and outside of it who have suffered bereavement in these challenging times.

Intervention by the WRU meant that Pontypridd RFC played its last fixture, in what seems an eternity, on the 7th March 2020. Government intervention has meant that activity ceased at Sardis Road on the 23rd March 2020 and, in terms of the most substantive elements, namely the playing of rugby football and the associated income generated by it, including the licensed premises, has remained that way.

During July the WRU held a series of webinars with representatives of its member clubs aimed at promoting and instigating phase 2B of its initiative to ‘Return to Rugby’, namely, WRU and club sanctioned small group training. Pontypridd RFC duly participated in the initiative which resulted in its Youth and Mini & Junior Sections returning to sanctioned non-contact small group training in mid-August. Unfortunately, this was terminated by the WRU for clubs within RCT when the Welsh Government imposed local restrictions on the local authority on Thursday 17th September. The rationale for suspension of the initiative is to demonstrate to the Welsh Government that the WRU aspires to be part of the solution in aiding suppression of the spread of Covid-19 rather than contributing to the problem caused by it.

Meanwhile our volunteers have remained active, with the Media Team being most conspicuous in its effort to not only maintain the website and other platforms, but also to promote the club, to promote its sponsors and business partners and others associated with the club, including informing and entertaining supporters.

Those who perform administrative tasks have continued to do so, mainly from home, while some of the ‘ground crew’ have undertaken extensive essential tasks such as the maintenance of the crush barriers on the terraces and pitch perimeter, while others have refurbished parts of the ground perimeter and installed CCTV which gives extensive security cover to the ground and its surroundings. Still others are working behind the scenes supplying the club with physical resources, experience and expertise in many fields. Pontypridd RFC is thankful to the host of volunteers and associations which continue to support it and extends its sincere appreciation to all those referred to, including the Friends of Pontypridd and the Former Players’ Association, as well as to any individual or organisation inadvertently omitted from this commendation.

Throughout the suspension of rugby football in Wales, the WRU has been in regular contact with the Welsh Government. As yet, there is no prospect of a return to competition in the semi-professional game. As the situation has been exacerbated by the recent resurgence in the rate of infection and the imposition of local restrictions, it would be futile to speculate. In these unprecedented times of adversity, funding remains a challenge and brings to mind some of the words of the late JFK’s inaugural address of 1961 when he appealed to the American people: ‘ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country’.

On that note, stay safe and well.

Steve Reardon – CEO

*Reference websites: BBC News; Imperial College London; World Health Organisation.