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Diss Rugby Club continue to battle with player availability issues

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The issue surrounding player availability has once again reared its head at Diss Rugby Club.

The Blues, who have recently halted a run of poor form by putting back-to-back victories on the board, had been due to head to Woodford last weekend for another London 2 North East encounter.

However, a combination of injuries and the fact the game was rearranged following a Covid-19 call off earlier in the campaign – meaning some players already had other commitments – meant Diss were unable to fulfil the fixture.

Diss were forced to pull out of last weekend's trip to Woodford. Picture: Mark Bullimore
Diss were forced to pull out of last weekend's trip to Woodford. Picture: Mark Bullimore

The points, therefore, were awarded to Woodford as Diss missed out on the chance of chalking up a third straight win.

It is not the first time this term a lack of players has hampered senior team selection, with chairman Andy Jermy having previously used his column in the Express to voice his concerns.

Speaking after the trip to Woodford was cancelled, Jermy said: “This game was originally cancelled because of Covid and so last weekend was supposed to be a break in the fixture list.

“Unfortunately some players had already made plans but we also had a lot of injuries, especially in the front row.

“We had to take the decision to withdraw from the game and that was very annoying.

“When Covid struck I think we all thought that it would be finances that would hamper the game, but it’s actually been more about some players being unwilling to play again.

“It seems like a lot of clubs are seeing that right across the board and it’s made this season difficult.”

One positive for Diss is that the youth set-up at the club currently seems to be in rude health.

A number of youngsters have made the step up to fill gaps in the senior side this term, but Jermy believes there is a balance to be had.

He added: “We’ve got some fantastic youngsters and the youth set-up is thriving, which is great to see.

“The danger is with youngsters that you move them up too early and that can really stamp on their enthusiasm.

“Ideally they’d go to the thirds and play some games, do the same in the seconds and then make the step up when they’re ready. It’s a transition and you have to handle it carefully with young players.

“The lads that have played in the first team this year have been fantastic and a real credit to the club, but we don’t want to put too much pressure on them at the same time.”

With this season having been a struggle at times to get a team out, it begs the question: what does the future have in store?

Is this the start of a growing and worrying trend across the grassroots game, or will it pick up as life continues to get back to some sort of normality?

“We’ve just got to see this season out,” said Jermy, who is hopeful Diss will be able to field a side at Cantabrigian tomorrow.

“I think what might happen if the numbers don’t come back is clubs will look to field less sides each weekend.

“In years gone by we’ve easily been able to put out three teams, but maybe it will be a case of having two teams and then some spare players.

“We’re also lucky with the players we have coming through and a lot of clubs may start to look at their youth set-ups.

“Hopefully things will be looking a lot rosier for everyone come September because it’s tough across all clubs.”

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