Rugby stars swap tackle bags for shopping bags

Their seasons have been brought to a halt but rugby clubs and players are turning their personal disappointment into positivity by reaching out to the communities around them.

Rugby stars swap tackle bags for shopping bags

Their seasons have been brought to a halt but rugby clubs and players are turning their personal disappointment into positivity by reaching out to the communities around them.

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to dictate the way we live our lives and rugby has been shut down with the professional game on a temporary stand down and the domestic campaign concluded with immediate effect last Thursday.

Like every other club on this island, Cork Constitution have seen activities curtailed but club president Kevin Fielding has been heartened by the community spirit being shown at the Temple Hill outfit.

“Genuinely the focus of the club and club management over the past six or seven weeks has been on health and well-being,” Fielding said.

We have a lot of activities, even beyond the normal rugby activities that we’ve had to cancel or postpone.

“Our U13s were going on a big trip abroad, to play in a tournament in Lisbon, Portugal and that’s had to be cancelled with huge financial ramifications but we have to manage our way through it.

"An enormous effort went into organising that trip but we made the decision way before rugby was stopped that this wouldn’t be appropriate and while it was very disappointing for the kids and the coaches, it was the right thing to do.

“We have a lot of meetings at the club and, for instance, the last Thursday of the month our retired members get together and that has been taken off the agenda.

“But there is some positive stuff going on as well. Our entire J2 squad have volunteered to go out and deliver food and messages and whatever needs to be done for members around the club. That’s a real positive.

Guys are putting their rugby boots to one side and are trying to do something to help others.

Con’s AIL 1A rivals Clontarf have also been doing their bit, facilitating an initiative on Dublin’s northside whereby food and provisions supplied by businesses can be collected from the club in a contact-free environment.

In Tipperary, Nenagh Ormond RFC have a phone number on their website for anyone in their community to contact if they need help or assistance with food shopping, pharmacy collections, or other help.

“There are people in the club who will help you get through this crisis,” their message said, before adding “remember that your rugby community is here to support you in any way we can.”

Nenagh is also one of seven areas that Munster Rugby are reaching out to in the province. Their development department has volunteered to help elderly or isolated people, or anyone in need of help during the current period of government restrictions by delivering essentials.

Coach and player development officers, rugby development officers, and rugby participation officers are using their company vehicles to assist the community in a different way.

Munster Rugby have called on those who know of anyone that is vulnerable at this time, and living in the surrounding areas of Bantry, Cashel, Cork City, Kenmare, Limerick, Macroom, and Nenagh to email info@munsterrugby.ie, and their staff will do their best to provide assistance.

In Galway, meanwhile, Connacht players have been lending their support to the city council’s efforts to hammer home the importance of social distancing.

Captain Jarrad Butler and team-mate Tiernan O’Halloran helped reinforce the message by posing for pictures on either side of one of the two-metre distance markers painted onto the pavements in Salthill at the weekend.

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