READY TO GO: The Warwick Water Rats will return to the field on July 18, with Downs Rugby confirming the start date for the 2020 season.
READY TO GO: The Warwick Water Rats will return to the field on July 18, with Downs Rugby confirming the start date for the 2020 season.

Green light imminent for Downs Rugby

RUGBY UNION: A date has been set for the return of Downs Rugby, with the competition set to kick off on July 18.

It's been a long-awaited return to the field for players, with the season initially expected to start on April 18.

Warwick Rugby Union club president Andrew Williams said the club would be ready to go when given the green light by Downs Rugby and Queensland Rugby Union.

"We're looking to be back out and, on the paddock," he said.

"We've just been sitting back and waiting, trying to be positive about the situation."

The Queensland Government announcement on Sunday to bring forward stage two of the Road Map to easing restrictions was welcomed by Downs Rugby officials.

Downs Rugby general manager Matt Hammond said the return to the field wouldn't be without its difficulties for clubs and players.

"It's not going to be easy this year, because the direction and education tour is all one thing but it's up to the volunteers at the end of the day," he said.

"It's not an easy return to play but we are prepared to go through with that.

"That's for the good of rugby, the mental health benefits and the camaraderie of the sport."

At this stage, clubs are unable to return to training, with the initial plan for June 12 still in place.

Not all clubs will play during the 2020 season, with at least three clubs expected to remain on the sidelines under the current conditions.

Hammond said regular board meetings and consultations with club officials had ensured there was still a demand for the season to go ahead.

"Not every club will be participating this year. The majority of clubs want to proceed but there is still a lot of uncertainty and a lot of moving targets," he said.

"The Downs Rugby board has decided we are playing for cups and we are just working out team nominations as we head into non-contact training.

"It'll be a much shorter season too and we are listening to the clubs with their suggestion."

The 2020 season will comprise of only five of the seven tournaments, with the A and B grade as well as the women's coemption going ahead.

Williams hopes the club will be able to field a formidable women's team, after previous years of success.

"We have a good base of players in our men's team and we won't be uprooting our long term players if we had some new guys come along," he said.

"We've had a good women's side over the years, and the (Toowoomba Rugby League) having their year this year took some girls from us.

"I'd love to think that we can filled a full women's team this year."



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