09:00AM, Saturday 18 July 2020
Windsor’s head coach Jack Pattinson says making sessions ‘enjoyable, engaging and purposeful’ will be the main challenge as players returned to group training this week.
Working in ‘bubbles’ of five players to one coach, Windsor’s senior players got back to some form of normality under the shadow of Windsor Castle on Tuesday evening.
It’s been many months since the Royals squad have met for training and Pattinson was keen for them to look upon the sessions as a chance to ‘reconnect with each other and the club’, rather than as pre-season for a campaign that might not start until the new year.
Players have completed a full risk assessment ahead of their return to Home Park and up to 60 seniors will take part in training over the coming weeks. The club also hopes to have the Windsor Dames and Colts back for sessions by the end of July.
The training will be kept relatively simple with an emphasis on having fun.
“We’re looking forward to it,” said Pattinson. “We’ve got 60 lads signed up. They’ve completed their risk assessment and I guess the trick now is devising sessions that are engaging and enjoyable, but also purposeful because we can’t do a lot under the regulations. That’s going to be the main challenge
“Five players will be working with one coach in a little bubble, and we’ll try and limit the amount of equipment that’s shared between the group as well. So we may well use one ball between two. It will mainly be a bit of conditioning, generic skill work, hand eye coordination and a little bit of catch practise. Obviously we can’t do any contact stuff.
“But I’ve said to the boys, ‘this isn’t pre-season’. It’s just an opportunity for players to come down and reconnect with each other and reconnect with the club. We’re not going to label this pre-season because no one wants to do a five month pre-season do they? We might not be playing competitive games again until February. So we’ll forget all the tactical stuff in rugby, and nothing too intense or detailed. The emphasis will be on having fun and catching up with mates. We won’t go overboard.”
Pattinson said the club’s chair Helen Crick had put in place a ‘rigorous and robust’ set of protocols to ensure the safety of the players and coaches, and he’s hopeful some adaptations can be made to the training over the coming weeks to give it ‘more context’ – such as being able to play tag or touch rugby. Professional players at the top level of the sport are set to return in August and Pattinson remains hopeful that recreational and semi-professional rugby will resume by October or November.
“I think we’ll take the precedent of the professional game,” he said. “And it’s been announced that the Premiership will start again in August.
“I think that provided that goes well, and we’re seeing other sports such as cricket getting the go ahead now.
“Hopefully if it all goes well we’ll be able to get started again and I’m hopeful we’ll be playing again by October or November, but hopefully within the year.
“It’s going to be about having to adapt. We’re not trying to set our eyes on anything yet, because very little is set in stone. We’ll keep it light hearted until we get some clarity on when games might return and then we’ll ramp up the intensity and start to prepare. Everyone is going to have to adapt and it’s going to be a good litmus test to see who can adapt best.
“It’s out of our hands but the next step for me would be playing small sided games of touch, and adaptive games that just give everything a bit more context. When you put things into a game format you get a much better transfer of learning and retention of skills. At the moment what we’re doing doesn’t feel or look like the game. If that can change it would be brilliant.”
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