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Dundee High Rugby to take out shutdown frustrations on a charity challenge

Neil Dymock during his playing days for Dundee High.
Neil Dymock during his playing days for Dundee High.

Ten months without competitive play has left Dundee High Rugby’s players and officials with “energy to burn” so they’re starting a February fund raising drive for charity and club funds.

“Discovery Challenge” aims to see the club’s membership collectively cover the 10,123.37 miles – the distance traversed by Captain Scott’s ship to Antartica – in the month of February through sponsored exercise whether that be walking, cycling, running or rowing.

Money raised will bolster the club during the long spell of competitive inactivity since rugby halted from the original lockdown last month, but also the local charity Togs For Tots, a clothing, equipment and experiences bank for children living in poverty.

The club has gone through highs and lows during the pandemic, but it is still thriving at junior level with actual increases in numbers attending the Dundee Eagles sessions since last March.

‘We had loads going on’

Despite the lack of competitive action, up until the city moved into Tier Three restrictions the senior club were going pretty well, explained the club’s rugby convener Neil Dymock.

“We had loads going on with 50 guys at senior training,” said Neil, a former Scotland club international and club captain. “There was touch rugby and some structured stuff and we’d adapted really well. We’d also successfully launched a new women’s team, the Valkyries.

“We used an app called SportsTrain for Track and Trace, split into training groups, and things were working really well right across the club, from the seniors to the juniors.

“Okay, we didn’t have contact or competitive rugby but we were able to do in-house fun stuff, competitions and things.

“It was a bit of a challenge to do the risk assessments and stuff like that but once we got it sorted, there was a real buzz about the place.”

Plans were in place for a return to competitive rugby

The club and others around the Midlands region had even begun to think of playing competitively again. They’d got together informally to work out a schedule for a local round-robin competition of friendlies that would start at the SRU’s original re-launch date in January.

Then, however, came Tier 3 restrictions and it all ground to a halt again.

“It was a big blow because we have a number of players who train and play for us but live outwith the city. It hit our numbers massively,” continued Neil.

“At Christmas coming into Tier 4 we decided to break up earlier, give the guys more of a rest. And we’ve not been back since.

“It’s difficult to keep guys motivated, but with nothing else to do, coming to training was an outlet for them. So now we’ve come up with this scheme.”

Channelling their frustration positively

Dundee Rugby & Togs Discovery Challenge Launches February

With no revenue from regular games and a wish to make a charitable contribution to the community, they’ve decided to channel their frustration positively.

“We want to keep the guys occupied and they have energy to burn, because they’ve got really fit,” continued Neil. “It’s also motivated by bringing money into the cliub, and also to give back to the community.

“We’ve not done any fund raising for a while, and we felt it was time to do that again. We’ve aligned ourselves with Togs for Tots, we thought that’s a great cause that we want to help.”

‘Everyone is chomping at the bit to do something’

They’d aimed at 50 participants but have passed that already.

“I think everyone is chomping at the bit to do something,” Neil added. “We targeted £200 and 200 miles from every person. If we get more than that then it’s more money for the club and for the charity.

“People can run or cycle solo, keep within the regulations, keep fit, while we’re introducing competitive elements and a Club Strada to log it all.”

The club hopes to still push forward with juniors, although from minis to midis there’s still a slight issue.

“The Eagles’ coaches have done absolutely fantastic work, they were in-house tournaments and the kids were loving it,” said Neil. “They’re still able to do quite a lot and they were really flourishing up until recently.

“The minis are slightly different to the midis, the Dundee Rugby section. Other sports like football are being allowed to operate more or less as normal while obviously rugby can’t.

“Those multi-sports guys are going to play football rather than rugby because they can get that competitive element we’re missing.

“It’s hard enough to keep guys of 15-16-17 anyway, because other things come into their life. But other sports competing as normal when we’re not allowed to is difficult.

“But the minis are through the roof and the seniors have managed to keep occupied. No university sport has helped, because the students have had nothing else to do but come to us.”

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