Widnes Vikings’ young outside back Lloyd Roby has been working extra hours to supply vital protective clothing to key workers around the country.
Roby works for local firm Regal Disposables, who distribute items like aprons and face masks to hospitals and companies that need them the most.
While most people have seen their workload shrink during the coronavirus lockdown, the 21-year-old has stepped up to ensure that the increasing demand for the products has been met.
Roby explained: “We’ve been in at 7am instead of 9am and staying late as well, because there’s a constant stream of stuff to sort through and get out.
“The demand has exploded from everywhere all across the health sector, from nursing homes to sending pallets of stuff to the London Royal.
“There’s a company based in the UK that is now making aprons out of bin bags, and there’s all sorts going on to try and help people with limited resources.
“It’s been busy and stressful, but if we can get stuff out as quickly as possible then hopefully it’s helping the people that need it.”
In the meantime Roby is also trying to maintain his fitness to be ready for whenever Rugby League returns to action.
He added: “I’m fortunate enough to have a treadmill at home, so when I get in from work I try and get on that as much as I can.
“You’re limited with other stuff when you haven’t got the weights and machines we’re lucky enough to have at the stadium, but you just have to do your best with what the strength and conditioning staff send you.
“A lot has gone on at the club in past 18 months and it felt like we were just getting back on track.
“We’d started the season pretty well after a lot of new faces came in, but after building it now feels like we’re back to square one.”
OLDHAM Chairman Chris Hamilton has joined the hundreds of thousands of people volunteering to ease the pressure on the NHS.
Hamilton was added to the scheme last week after putting his name forward when the government asked for help.
Hamilton said: “It sounds corny, but I didn’t want to just sit back and do nothing.
“When you see what everybody is doing – not just in the NHS but all the other people in key jobs, emergency services, the food delivery and supply chain and supermarkets – you want to do your bit to help them.”
Last week Oldham launched a new club logo and crest to reflect the Roughyeds’ support and backing for the NHS and other key workers.
Until further notice it will be used on the club’s website, social media platforms and on everything that goes out to media outlets.
Hamilton said: “We are all relying on the magnificent job currently being done by the NHS and by all the other men and women in key industries and services.
“To come up with a new club logo, which reflects the club’s admiration and heart-felt thanks, seemed to be a positive and supportive thing to do.
“As we battle to beat coronavirus with a united and collective effort, the Oldham club is keen to take this opportunity to offer its grateful and sincere support and thanks to all who are in the front line.
“We would also ask our fans to do all they can to line up alongside the club’s support for the NHS and other key workers, whether that be in spirit only or in more practical ways if they are able.”
HALIFAX’S stadium at the Shay could be used as a morgue in the coming weeks if the number of funerals and cremations in Calderdale exceeds the numbers the borough can cope with.
Plans to use the stadium as a resting place if the coronavirus pandemic overwhelms local resources were confirmed last week.
Calderdale Council’s assistant director for neighbourhoods Andrew Pitts told the Halifax Courier: “We have a statutory responsibility to plan for any potential increase in the numbers of people who pass away in the borough.
“All local authorities have been asked to put in place arrangements for temporary facilities if they reach a point where they are unable to conduct funerals and cremations at a rate at which deaths are occurring.
“In Calderdale, the Shay Stadium has been identified as the most appropriate location for this purpose.
“Whilst we are required to plan for this requirement, we very much hope not to need to use it.
“The single most important action we can all take, in fighting coronavirus, is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives.”
BRADFORD BULLS coach John Kear has outlined a plan that he believes could see Rugby League finish the 2020 season in a satisfactory way.
The proposal is based around immediately setting all Grand Finals for the last weekend in November and then formulating a fixture plan around whatever time there is between then and the restart of action.
Built into that would be having Toronto play all their matches in England, standing down Catalans and Toulouse for 2020 and cancelling the international programme, to save on travel in uncertain times.
Kear told League Express: “As a game we’ve got to think outside the box.
“As the Wales coach I’m an internationalist, but international games mean international travel and in a time following a pandemic like this I think that would be frowned upon.
“I’d say to Toulouse and Catalans that they retain their places in the respective competitions for 2021 and Toronto for me would have to play all their matches in England.
“All players are contracted until the end of November, so I’d immediately make that the Grand Final weekend for all competitions.
“When that’s done you look at how many weeks you’ve got and fit a fixture schedule into it.
“If we are able to start at the beginning of July that would still give us over 20 weekends.
“When the NRL brought play-offs in it was because they weren’t playing each other home and away and we don’t need to do that.
“Perhaps all the Yorkshire clubs could play each other home and away and the Lancashire clubs once as a starting point, depending on how much time we have.
“Get a reasonable number of games in place to provide income and allow people to watch them.
“I’m sure there will a massive uptake in spectators when we first get back out there and we need to take advantage of that to make up the income rather than worrying about things like loop fixtures.
“I’m at ease with not playing home and away when you decide the champions with play-offs; the issue might be with relegation, but perhaps we could have a play-off system for that too.”
Asked about the possibility of regular midweek matches, Kear responded: “I’m not saying that should never happen, but it only needs to be once or twice, perhaps based around Bank Holidays.
“The important thing is getting a meaningful fixture list in place with the time that we have, and moving the Grand Finals to November gives us a chance.”
Kear would then veto any pre-season games next year, with the relatively short break between seasons meaning players would not need them.
BATLEY BULLDOGS coach Craig Lingard believes one solution to a potential fixture pile-up later this season would be to increase the number of players clubs are allowed to loan and dual-register.
Talk gathered pace last week suggesting that clubs could be asked to play regular midweek matches once the season resumes, which would place a heavy workload on players, particularly part-time ones.
Lingard believes some players would actually welcome that development, but he believes that a relaxation of loan and dual-registration rules would make the situation more feasible.
Lingard explained: “It’s going to be tough, especially with people going back to work at the same time.
“There will be a lot of extra demands at work too, with overtime and extra hours to make up what’s been missed, especially with the self-employed lads at the club.
“They will want to get in as much work as possible when they can.
“And from a part-time point of view, it might be beneficial to lads to be playing more regularly, because that’s where they get the majority of their money.
“I think the majority of our players would welcome it.
“But squad rotation will have to come into it – playing three games in a week is going to be difficult at any level.
“What could help is a relaxing of the quota rules on loan and dual-registration to ease that strain.
“It might be that they cancel the Academy and reserves competitions and use those players to fill squads in Super League.
“If they’re not playing then they could come into contention for Championship and League One clubs to bolster those squads.
“Even an extra one or two players in a matchday squad would be a bonus and take the stress off players trying to back up with niggling injuries.
“It looks a sensible option to me.”
Lingard’s own squad continues to do its best to stay in good condition during the lockdown.
He added: “We’re communication via WhatsApp like most teams, with our conditioner Paul Royston giving the boys daily routines depending on what they’ve got available to them.
“We trying to keep the boys motivated, but that’s difficult when we could be looking at ten to twelve weeks off, or the season even being over full stop.
“We’ve just got to make the best with what we’ve got.”
FEATHERSTONE ROVERS coach James Webster says he is using his time in furlough proactively after the club’s entire staff was placed in the measure last week.
Webster now has no official duties at the club but says that won’t stop him trying to better himself as a coach.
He explained: “I’ve got a heap of books here that I’ve not had the chance to read with working two jobs this season (Webster has also acted as assistant to Richard Agar at Leeds).
“I’ve been catching up with those as well as watching a lot of matches, in our league but also in the NRL and Super League.
“I still want to keep developing as much as I can as a coach, as well as taking a bit of a rest ahead of what is sure to be a busy period.”
Webster’s time has also been spend focusing on his two children, aged eleven and seven.
He added: “My wife is a teacher, but she’s still working a lot from home with her own marking and lesson planning.
“Some of the home schooling has been down to me and that’s taking up some of my time too, especially in the mornings.”
YORK CITY KNIGHTS’ SquadBuilder Fund last week received an anonymous donation of £10,000.
The Fund posted on Twitter: “In these unprecedented times that we are going through at the moment, there are still people out there who are still prepared to go that extra mile for York City Knights.
“SquadBuilder has received a cheque from someone for £10,000.
“There was no printed name on the cheque and unfortunately the signature wasn’t decipherable.
“We would just like to say an absolutely massive thank you to this person, you know who you are.
“A big, big thank you from everyone at SquadBuilder and from the club as well.
“We all have to pull together at this moment in time to get through this, but what a fantastic gesture this is.”
DEWSBURY RAMS coach Lee Greenwood says that a collective approach to 2020 has been behind his side’s encouraging start to the campaign, which saw them win three out of four matches, despite a tough fixture list.
Greenwood said: “Last year we were possibly better in terms of our overall ability and what players had done in their careers, but if you don’t put the absolute maximum into training and games then it’s pointless.
“We’ve got that bit of team spirit, and even if we’d lost our first three games, I’d have been happy to perform like we did and satisfied with our effort, while knowing that results will come from that.
“We deserved to possibly be closer to Leigh – not to win but to be closer – and nobody could complain about us deserving to beat Widnes and Halifax.
“It has a feeling a bit like an amateur team, in that the money dried up and still they’d want to play because they like and get on with each other, and I’m not sure a lot of clubs are like that.”
SWINTON LIONS have started an online virtual tour where they point out local places of significance to the history of the club.
The series has been put together by Lions director and noted historian and author Steve Wild.
It started last week with the foundation of the club, at what was then a school but is now a local chippy.
“At a meeting on 20th October 1866, chaired by the Vicar of Swinton, the Rev Henry Robinson Heywood, members of Swinton Cricket Club decided to play football during the winter,” the tour explains.
“This meeting took place at St Peter’s School, but this was not the school building that we know today. The old school was located on Wardley Street, roughly where the chippy now stands.”
The series will continue in the coming weeks
LEIGH CENTURIONS have made their subscription-only television channel available free to all Rugby League supporters during the current lockdown.
Centurions owner Derek Beaumont said: “We have taken this decision in these unprecedented times to add to the options people may have to stay in touch with the sport they love.
“We will be adding content of classic old games, player interviews, coaching talks for kids’ rugby and insights and stories from our directors and staff members.
“In taking this decision we realise that we are making available something free that others are, and have been, paying for.
“We are confident that our fans who support LCTV will also support what we are trying to achieve here and will not take offence.”
Details of how to sign up can be found on the club website.
LONDON BRONCOS coach Danny Ward says the current situation is far from ideal for long-term injury duo Greg Richard and Sadiq Adebiyi.
Richards has been recovering from a torn calf, while Adebiyi has had surgery on a pectoral muscle.
Ward said: “They’re not able to get that hands-on treatment that they would usually have in this situation.
“The medical team have been having video calls with them and they’ve got some equipment to do as much as they can.
“Sadiq has been the main one missing the day-to-day stuff and that might set him a week or two back in the long term.”
TOULOUSE OLYMPIQUE are continuing to invite applications for the club’s junior training centre, despite admitting that they are unsure when it will be able to launch.
They are asking prospective players born between September 1, 1998 and August 31, 2002 to complete an application form on the club’s website before the end of April.
A club statement read: “The TO Training Centre represents a great springboard for one day getting to know high-level rugby.
“At the heart of the Olympian project for many years, this structure has been the pride of the club.
“As proof, eight players who are now part of the professional squad (out of 24) went through the Olympian structure.”
SHEFFIELD EAGLES Chairman Chris Noble MBE says the furloughing of all players and staff last week was the most sensible option to protect the club’s long-term future.
All players were spoken to and have agreed to the furlough agreement set out by club along with those affected members of staff.
Noble explained: “These are worrying times for everyone across the country and we have taken swift and immediate action to try and ensure we best protect our players, staff and the club.
“The situation is ever changing and with no confirmed end date of current government guidelines or a recommencement of the 2020 season we have had to put these measures in place.”
WHITEHAVEN’S long search for a halfback has been placed on hold while the coronavirus lockdown remains in place.
Haven have been looking for an extra playmaker since the end of last season, and recently missed out on Tommy Lee when he joined Halifax.
They had previously come close to landing Papua New Guinean international Ase Boas, before he decided to remain in his native country.
League Express understands that talks had taken place with a potential Australian target with a British passport, but coach Gary Charlton confirmed nothing will now develop until the sport has a restart date.