Coronavirus, COVID-19: Pandemic brings Wellington Redbacks season to a halt

With no training allowed from now until March, Webster said momentum really can't be built or maintained but he's encouraged all players to keep up their personal fitness. Photo: Amy McIntyre
With no training allowed from now until March, Webster said momentum really can't be built or maintained but he's encouraged all players to keep up their personal fitness. Photo: Amy McIntyre

The Wellington Redbacks were primed to build on last season's title-winning performance but the current coronavirus pandemic has brought things to "a screaming halt" for new coach Sam Webster.

Following a decision from Rugby Australia on March 16, all Central West Rugby Union competitions and club training sessions are cancelled until the first week of May.

A statement released on Monday night said the National Development Panel, Rugby Australia and state and territory member unions unanimously agreed to postpone all community rugby for over six weeks.

The postponement includes rugby matches, training, and face-to-face education courses, and means all competitions from the Blowes Clothing Cup to the three new Westfund Cups down to Wallas will all be scrapped for the time being.

Webster, who has taken over at Wellington from Greg 'Snow' Brien, said the season was looking good, with the club the strongest it had ever been thanks to a close-knit group of players.

The Redbacks won last season's Oilsplus Cup and the new coach had liked what he'd seen from his side during the build-up to the title defence.

"We were starting to bond and train really well and now this happened. It's disappointing what's happened, there's no doubt about that, but the safety and health of others is paramount," he explained.

"It is what it is, at the end of the day... once it gets on top hopefully we can get started again...."

With no training allowed from now until March, Webster said momentum really can't be built or maintained but he's encouraged all players to keep up their personal fitness so when the season does commence they're not starting from scratch.

Webster had a lot of plans in the lead-up to the season kicking off, and said it was frustrating as everyone was putting in the hard yards during pre-season.

"Now it's up to the boys to keep their general fitness up and hopefully this gets all cleared," he said.

Webster said despite what's happening with the current health crisis, the club is looking good with great support from the board and volunteers.

"But it's come to a screaming halt and obviously it will effect the club money-wise because we will have no footy plying, but once it starts back up again I think it will be fine," he added.

"We'll do what we have to do to get the rugby up and going."

Webster is a rugby union veteran, having played for juniors and seniors with the Dubbo Roos.

He also played with the Blue Bulls side and was a part of the four year winning streak in the Caldwell Cup, plus the under 17s, 21s and opens with NSW Country.

A serious back injury halted his rugby career for a number of years, before Webster was fit enough to play again, this time with club rugby at the Roos and finishing off at the Narromine Gorillas.

Webster hopes with his rugby experience he can pass on some knowledge to the Redbacks players once the 2020 season starts, both on and off the field.

He praised Central West Rugby Union CEO Matt Tink for all of his knowledge and hard work, adding that they are lucky to have him.