Cornish rugby increasingly on the outer-edge

It’s always been the case really due to our geography, the far south-west must seem like a different world to those “up country!”

And so we like to be. As with everything, it has its positives and negatives. Sadly the world doesn’t stop at the Tamar!

When it comes to league rugby, the biggest bugbear has been and remains the cost of travel and accommodation, though in increasing cases the accommodation has been ditched in favour of early morning starts and early morning returns, and we wonder why the majority of Cornish clubs don’t do better playing away!

Last Saturday the travel problem was brilliantly illustrated at Camborne, when Chard got held up in the half-term traffic compounded with an accident on the A30. Thankfully the clocks didn’t go back until the next day and despite a 4 o’clock kick-off, a sunny afternoon and the briefest of half-time breaks, the game was completed, just! That was for a team coming to Cornwall from a relatively short distance.

The balance of clubs in National League 2 South has seen a surge in the number of clubs from the London and south-east to the cost of clubs further west….literally!

Invariably, apart from the winners of National League 3 SW & SE, the play-off winner from the runners-up always seems to be from the south-east, where the clubs appear to have greater financial support/backing and player base than those further west. The trend looks set to continue next season.

There has been talk of reforming the leagues and making them more regionalised, but that has been kicked into the long grass thanks to the clubs “up north”.

I spoke to former Redruth captain Damien Cook this week, following the Cornwall Development game at Penzance.

His former club announced that he had decided to stop playing National League rugby, though in some quarters it was taken that he had stopped playing altogether, which is not the case.

There are various factors that have lead to Cook’s decision, some which are between the player and the club and I have no intention, nor is it my brief, of divulging those here, but a major factor in his decision is the travelling and the amount of time involved. It is understandable that after many, many seasons of travelling, and let’s face it Cook has travelled with the Reds to far-flung places such as Blaydon and Tynedale, the novelty starts wear a little thin.

“The commitment to play National League rugby these days is massive,” said Cook, who added, “They say it’s for the south-west clubs, but we are increasingly having more games in the south-east, for the commitment required for me to play at Redruth I have difficulties meeting due to a new job where I am based in Penryn, which is a long commute from down where I live, that means less time with my family which is not ideal. It’s not unknown to get up at 4:30 am to travel to the south-east, play a game and get home the next morning!

“There are some good quality youngsters coming up and for an older player like myself you have to be committed to working harder to maintain the level of fitness needed to compete, which sadly I can no longer give.”

Cook still hopes to play club rugby, albeit at a lower level, and still harbours hopes of playing a part in Cornwall’s campaign this season: “It’s a bit soon to see where I will be playing next. Last Thursday I told the Redruth boys of my decision, which as you can imagine was not easy either for myself or them.

“As far as Cornwall goes, I happy to be involved if selected. Make no bones the competition for selection has increased greatly over the past couple of seasons.”

Posted in Bill's Blog

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