Gloucestershire-based rugby league side, All Golds, should have been visiting neighbours Swindon St George for their Southern Conference curtain raiser this weekend, writes Tom Howe.
However, due to the lockdown, Supermarine RFC was silent yesterday as both sets of players continued their individual training programmes from home with, as yet, no date set for a return to action.
All Golds, previously run by the University of Gloucestershire, were playing in the third tier – better known as League One – as recently as 2017 but, after withdrawing and dropping to the Southern League a year later, their optimistic chairman Lionel Hurst reports the club are in rude health and ‘ready to go on and off the field’.
Having lost out 36-6 to London Chargers in last season’s Southern Conference quarter-finals, the club have returned hungrier than ever to break into the National Leagues and back towards the third tier once more – although there is so much more to the forward-thinking club, which recently celebrated its 20th birthday.
“It is that level we want to get back to initially,” revealed Hurst when speaking to The Independent. “Since coming out of League One, I think we have used the time very wisely. We are building things properly. From primary to professional is our strapline. We have got great interest in primary and secondary schools. Those children, both male and female, will feed into our junior teams and give us that player performance pathway. That is what it is all about. You have got to get youngsters playing the game.
“Women’s sport is becoming very popular and we have the Golden Ferns ready to go. Rugby League is a game that was born in communities and comes from that setting. If you don’t get your community involved then we are all wasting our time.
“You have got to get it right off the field and the club is way stronger infrastructure wise. We wanted to recruit a squad of 30 boys of quality, which is what we have done and, what is very significant, is that our schools competitions, in certain age groups, are oversubscribed. Kids love the game and I don’t think there has ever been a discussion about league and union.
“We are trying to grow the game, it is a wonderful and beautiful sport. If the game is going to be taken seriously, the city of Bristol has to have a top team one day, there is no doubt about it.”