5th December 2020, 08:56 | community

The Greatest Game Lives On...

A year of unprecedented challenge for the Community game

Marc Lovering, the RFL’s Director of Participation and Development, reflected at Wednesday’s meeting of the Rugby League Council on a year of unprecedented challenges for the community game.

An excerpt of his speech is printed below.

But to celebrate the resilience that has been shown by so many in Community Rugby League throughout 2020 – and with so much to anticipate in 2021 – the RFL has worked with Shawn Boatin of Grassroots Multi Media on a short film providing a flavour of what’s been achieved.

The autumn activity may have been cut short by the return of lockdown in October but more than 500 matches were played, and around 80% of junior clubs took part.

As Marc Lovering told the RL Council: “It wasn’t ideal - but it was still worth it.

“I don’t think any of us underestimated the value of even a couple of games which were just rewards for all the players and volunteers at the end of a hugely challenging season.  

“There was no evidence of transmission between teams at a time when infection rates were high in the community and we safely reached and delivered the final stage of our return to play plan with no adverse consequences. 

“The autumn activity proved what we thought – the core of our community game is resilient and will bounce back strongly.

“We’d asked a huge amount from our community clubs in terms of following constantly changing guidelines and protocols. They took it all on board and they delivered.  

“That probably should not have come as a surprise given the incredible role many of our clubs played in supporting their local communities during lockdown.  

“Our clubs and Foundations play a vital role in their communities and they showed it both in the support they gave communities and the way in which they safely delivered the return to play. 

“We’d kept players active and engaged through Lockdown, and we navigated a return to play.

“Our other key priority was club sustainability.  

“With clubhouses shut and membership fees down, our clubs, like clubs in all sports, were and indeed still are facing a fight for survival.  

“We knew because of the impact of Covid we would lose players. We expected to lose some teams. But we were determined we would not lose any clubs.”

“That remains our key objective as we look forward to the game returning in January.”

The RFL thanks Shawn Boatin for his work on the film, and his continued support for the grassroots game.