HEAD coach Jon Feeley has reiterated Wharfedale should be able to cope in a difficult few months ahead for community rugby.

After briefly returning to contact in December, lockdown three stunted any chances of the sport playing on.

And with the RFU kicking its 'cluster leagues' idea into touch, the best clubs can hope for before preparation begins for their 2021-22 campaigns is a few local friendlies when restrictions are lifted.

It means when the green light to resume is signalled, it will likely be a year since players last took to the pitch, leaving many clubs with financial headaches.

Feeley highlights Green IPA Championship side Ampthill's situation. The Bedfordshire team are asking for donations as they cannot afford to play, with no grant support to cover Covid-19 testing and loss revenue, when their season kicks off in March.

He said: "If our second tier is finding it difficult, you can imagine how difficult it is for all the other clubs who simply don’t have that level of income.

"For most cases it is going to be a case of survival and working out a business plan from now until September to keep alive.

“Wharfedale are in a unique position because we have our own ground, so we don’t have those overheads that other clubs do. We are very lucky.”

On the Greens' plans for 2021, Feeley added: “Everyone is planning towards September.

“If we look at May, June, and July as a possible resumption of contact sports, we are looking at potential fixtures for then.

“We are currently exploring options as to what we can do when lockdown eases. We are looking around at what is possible in the local area and who is going to be available to get club rugby back up and running.

“I have no doubt there will be a huge appetite for it amongst players and spectators. When we do get back to some sort of normality people will appreciate it more than ever.

“Timing is going to be difficult. The end of potential restrictions will coincide in what would usually be the off-season. It is going to be a logistical issue.

“We have got to remember these players have been kept away for long periods and they are not going to be ready for contact.

“They are going to need a minimum month and half for conditioning work to prepare them to playing fixtures and take contact again.”

As for the present, Feeley says rugby is off the agenda when speaking to his players.

“We are in contact, but it doesn’t tend to be rugby related,” he said. “Right now, they need a break from it.

“They will miss it but when they are back it will be intense because they would have gone from nothing to a very socially demanding situation.

“A lot of people are struggling to get by so there is a bigger issue than rugby and it is important to keep that in mind.”