PERSHORE Rugby Club are “battered and bruised” after some heavy defeats and conceding their last two leagues matches but won’t be throwing in the towel, says chairman Steve Heyward.
The Wyre Piddle outfit have been rocked by “nine retirements” and are bottom of Midlands Three West (South) this term after seven defeats from seven completed matches.
They lost 92-0 at Shipston-on-Stour, 97-7 at Old Wheatleyans and 62-0 at Old Coventrians this season and called off last weekend’s derby against Evesham because they could not raise a side.
However, Heyward said Pershore were optimistic of honouring tomorrow’s league trip to Harbury (2.15pm).
“It’s very difficult circumstances at the moment and we are battered and bruised,” said Heyward.
“We are going through a phase of restructuring with a lot of young players in the first team.
“We have suffered the consequences of not continuing with our colts’ side a few years ago.
“We had a senior side who joined together and came through together and it was a settled side for five years.
“Then, out of the blue, we had nine player retirements in one season, which has really crippled us.
“We are not folding this season or the next one and the league are fairly sympathetic to our plight.
“We are trying to make sure the right infrastructure is in place and we will learn from it and not make the same mistakes in the future.”
Heyward revealed club officials were in early talks with the Worcestershire Black Knights about becoming a permanent home for the American football team.
He said Pershore were also working with Upton to put together a Barbarians-style team offering second XV rugby and he praised the work of the club’s thriving junior section.
“We have a marvellous junior contingent and the five-year plan is for our 12-year-old group to progress through the ranks to become the colts’ side,” said Heyward.
“We will be offering the group additional support and help.
“It is unusual for nine senior players to call it a day at the same time and it caught me and the rest of the committee by surprise. We did not have any proper infrastructure to fill the gaps.
“We are suffering massively as a result of it and are currently in a league which is far too strong for us and we’ve had some huge defeats.
“We know we are going to drop a league and might drop down another but we will find our level and bounce back.
“As officials, we are trying to keep the players together and I have total respect and admiration for the players who are representing the club.
“A lot of them are young players and have been brilliant and showed tremendous commitment and are a shining beacon in a difficult time.
“I used to play for Pembroke Dock Quins and remember a similar situation when we lost five players in the same season and were on the wrong end of some heavy 100-point losses. But we came back.”
Former Worcester Warriors and Glasgow star Tommy Hayes is coaching Pershore and doing a superb job, according to Heyward.
He said: “Tommy is backing us and in my four-and-a-half years at the club I can safely say he’s the best coach I’ve seen.
“He’s come into his own this season and is always lively and doing a huge amount of work with the young players. He seems to enjoy working with a lot of raw materials.
“The RFU have been brilliant as have Worcestershire and Herefordshire RFU and they know what our circumstances are and are offering us support.
“I know they can’t find us three new props and some new back-row players but they have been very understanding.
“We couldn’t field a side against Evesham because we picked up three or four injuries and we conceded our game against Cheltenham North but played it as a friendly with uncontested scrums. We think the Harbury game will go ahead.”