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Crisis time for Welshpool rugby

 
Created on 14/09/2010 @ 13:12
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The future of rugby in Welshpool faces its toughest challenge for a generation after player shortages forced the club to cancel their match on Saturday.

Up to 24 players made themselves unavailable for Saturday’s second match of the season, prompting officials to take the drastic action of cancelling. And it follows an opening day mauling at local rivals COBRA the previous week for the side which finished bottom of the league last year.
But the club’s new-look coaching set-up has vowed to turn the fortunes around, saying that while the immediate future looks gloomy, the work done with the youth and junior set-up should give the town reasons to be optimistic.
“The recent run of the 1st team is obviously a concern and last Saturday was a bit of a kick in the teeth to the coaches and players that are putting the effort in, but we will be sticking around and looking to fix things,” said assistant coach Dave Roberts. “Whilst there is a commitment issue from some, we also had 24 players either injured, on holiday or working on Saturday so not all is doom and gloom.
“My belief is that we have the players within this year’s squad to compete with anyone on our day. All that is lacking is commitment and passion; I have never doubted the ability.
“Also the club as a whole is in a strong position because we now run under 8's, 10's, 12's, 14's, 16's and 19's so things look healthy for the long term. However it is important that we maintain a strong senior side so that the young lads coming through benefit from playing in a strong side with strong individuals to learn from.”

Roberts’s call to remain positive has been shared by fellow assistant coach Peter Davies who has been with the club for 21 years.

“Last season has really had an effect on players’ commitment and morale and a couple of the lads have quit over it,” said Davies. “But we still mainly have the same squad and we hoped that with a good structure in place and with a committed coaching set-up and varied training, the lads would grasp the opportunity to turn things around.
“The training sessions put together, mainly by Dave (Roberts), have been a breath of fresh air. The players have no excuses now. Fitness is the biggest issue as was shown against COBRA last week, but also we have a lot of lads relatively new to the game. If they don’t train and learn then they'll never improve.
“We do have a thriving junior set-up and the worry for me is still having a senior team for them to come in to. I’ve seen in other towns that once a team folds they very rarely reform. It’s probably sounding a bit drastic, but the decline in the club over the last three or four years has made it this way. I certainly will not be resting until we turn this around.”
For more information on the club, including its impressive youth set up and timings, visit http://www.pitchero.com/clubs/welshpool/
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