AFTER a tough last year or so, Wharfedale RUFC will be back in training on Tuesday, in line with Government and RFU relaxations of lockdown restrictions.

It has been over 12 months since the Greens were last involved in any competitive action, so, upon their return, player welfare is at the forefront of their minds.

Plans to participate in the Ventur Cup, a tournament hosted by Leeds RUFC in May/June, have been abandoned for this exact reason.

"We wanted to put the players' welfare first," insisted head coach Jon Feeley.

"It's been exactly a year since we last played and this was my biggest concern about entering the Ventur Cup.

"My proviso was that we only enter if the correct period beforehand had been allowed for conditioning work to take place.

"We have a duty of care to ensure that they are in conditioning work for a minimum of two months before they enter contact situations because their bodies are simply not going to be adaptable."

The competition would have added to what is already set to be a long and gruelling season ahead for Wharfedale, starting this September and ending in May 2022.

Instead, they intend to participate in a couple of potentially more inclusive fixtures against Harrogate - provisionally away on May 22 and at The Avenue on June 5.

Feeley added: "The fixtures are going to include different age groups as well, so it's a whole club event.

"They'll be varying age groups involved so it will be terrific. If the circumstances allow, we are really looking forward to doing it as a group, not just the first team."

Wharfedale's player welfare planning doesn't finish there as the club have teamed up with Give A Ruck.

The non-profit organisation works with rugby clubs to address mental health issues and has former Green Mark Tampin as an ambassador.

Dale squad member Matt Beesley will be heading the initiative amongst the senior players.

The club will also be looking to roll it out to the junior age groups, particularly those in the 15-18 age bracket.

The head coach said: "This is something rugby has needed for a very long time. We recognise the importance of this.

"Young guys, where do they go when they have these issues? Who do they turn to?

"The last place you would speak about this when I was growing up was in a changing room because it was about ego and testosterone. It wasn't about sharing your problems.

"But actually it should be the first place you share them because those are the people that you rely on and go to battle with. I think it's a terrific initiative. It's long overdue."

With player welfare the priority, Wharfedale RUFC continue to show why their tight nit community continues to blossom to this day and in their 99th year of existence, excitement is building ahead of their return.