Burnell’s New Year resolution
With an entire rugby season having in effect been written off due to the Covid pandemic, Pontypridd RFC Director of Rugby Justin Burnell has had plenty of time to reflect on the situation. Now into the new year, despite the huge disappointments and frustrations of the past few months, he remains positive in his outlook for the future.
According to Burnell, a lead can hopefully be taken from what is happening over the border, where plans to resume the English Championship in March have been mooted, reflected by a recent WRU announcement that Welsh Premiership rugby in some shape or form might be played before the summer.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel” said Burnell as he looked forward to 2021. “The WRU and Welsh Government are working hard to get things back to some sort of normality when conditions allow, and we must take heart from that.
“We are mindful that everything must be properly in place before that happens, and that the safety of players and supporters is paramount, but I hope that some rugby can yet be played towards the end of spring and early summer, maybe with a short close season before the next full campaign gets under way.”
Justin Burnell’s working life as a rugby coach has been on hold since mid-March but he has lost none of his focus and has been in constant touch with the Pontypridd squad.
“The players are training in isolation and we are monitoring that, whilst some of our youngsters have been called in for conditioning testing by the regional academy. I talk to the boys regularly and they all miss the Sardis atmosphere, the crowd during a game and the socialising after. That close relationship with the fans, its part of the DNA of all players at Ponty and its being missed.”
After such a lengthy lay-off, how the Premiership resumes and how clubs will emerge from the lockdown remains to be seen, but amid all the uncertainty Burnell remains confident of his club’s ambitions.
“We will always aim to be competitive, to challenge for honours when rugby resumes. We have a core of experienced players at Ponty, supplemented by youngsters coming through our development programme. No one knows how the land will lie when we get back into action but I’m sure we can give ourselves a fighting chance of success.
“In the meantime we are still going through difficult times and I can only hope that everyone involved with Pontypridd RFC and all our supporters, can remain safe and remain positive.”