The Blackpool Gazette caught up with Warren Spragg this week. The following is produced courtesy of the Gazette.
Fylde RFC head coach Warren Spragg remains hopeful that some form of competitive rugby union will be possible in the New Year after the Rugby Football Union abandoned plans for any adult league action below Championship level in the 2020-21 season.
Discussions are taking place to replace this season’s leagues with a national knockout competition for community clubs, which would start with regionalised round-robins, possibly played in front of limited crowds as has been the case with non-league football and maybe with a final at Twickenham.
However, with a second national lockdown taking the sport back to square one in its ‘return to rugby’ planning, any competitive action this season would most probably be under hybrid rules reducing physical contact.
The RFU decision that the staging of meaningful leagues at National League level and below was no longer feasible came as no surprise to Fylde coach Spragg, who told BBC Radio Lancashire: “It’s the news we were expecting, but I hoped for more explanation about what the next level would look like.
“We’re all hoping for a regionalised cup competition in January, so we get the same number of games we would have in the league structure post-Christmas.
“We need to get players playing. There’s more to it than arguing about minor details of the rules.
“We have a massive group of young adults not able to socialise or do any of the stuff that gives them their identity.
“It’s ruining a generation of young sports people mentally, so anything that gets them back playing we need to do as soon as possible, whatever the rules are.
“We’ve tried unbelievably hard to keep players engaged with the club and feeling it’s a place where they are welcome and supported.
“We have tried to plan for best and worst case scenarios to make sure they have a club to come back to.
“We are only supposed to be rugby coaches but we have a very big social responsibility. We need the RFU and the government to come back with something.”
The game is in discussion with the Department for Culture Media and Sport about a resumption of competitive rugby and the form that can take, though Spragg would like to see two matches played before any cup competition gets under way.
He added: “I think the best way forward for us in the North West to make money is for Fylde to play Preston Grasshoppers home and away.
“If we could choose a return to rugby game before a cup competition I’d agree to play Preston, with 600 paying to watch both games.
“That would get our rugby economy going.”
John Inverdale, Chairman of the National Clubs Association, underlines Warren’s hopes in a recent chat with Talking Rugby Union’s Chris Heal.