Rugby: We're still Hardy but it's high time for summer rugby

AN Edinburgh club coach has produced a blueprint for summer rugby as frustration lingers in the grass roots over inactivity caused by the recent big freeze.

Dave Hardy, of Portobello, says the current structure is causing playing numbers to drop and restricts opportunities to follow the Edinburgh professional team.

"Summer Rugby is a must or club rugby will not grow and develop the number and quality of players Scotland needs. Our season so far has been successful and enjoyable and starts with training from 1 July.

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"As we hit November we hit problems. Training numbers dipped and matches, especially for 2nd and 3rd teams, started to be cancelled. Training facilities became poorer outdoors and expensive if it meant investing on Astroturf or indoor alternatives.

"Our 1sts didn't play between 12 December and last weekend.

"My ideal format would be starting pre-season and running this through the Six Nations period which would allow for supporting the national team.

"Leagues would run from the end of the Six Nations until October culminating in grand finals at Murrayfield. This would lead to more players who would be better for good quality training in nice weather and less cancellations. Matches could be played on one pitch and less players required as subs could be from previous matches. Each club would be asked to provide two or three teams and would travel or play at home together (we sometimes have all our teams including both colts at different venues, a logistical and cost nightmare).

"Pitches will be harder but better for flowing rugby.

"When have we ever had a summer with no rain, so would grounds be too hard?"

In "seeking to foster debate" Hardy lists negatives such as competition with golf and cricket which, in the latter case, could restrict availability of pitches.

Traditions would suffer but that is a price worth paying according to Hardy, who adds: "While schools would have to remain attached to the winter schedule, changes are required to ensure club rugby and Scottish rugby develops and provides the great fun for future generations."

Hardy, who stresses his views are not necessarily those of his club, is keen to see Portobello's campaign go into overdrive on Saturday when they visit North Berwick who are the only team above them in National League division one.

Entering what is being billed as a title decider Portobello, with two games in hand, trail the East Lothian side by nine points.