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RUGBY: Shortage of pitches for Taunton youngsters
5:00pm Friday 1st February 2013 in Sport
YOUNG rugby players are struggling to get a game because council bosses reckon they kick the ball harder than footballers, a coach has claimed.
There are 200 under-18s on Taunton Rugby Club’s books, but the Hyde Park ground isn’t big enough to cater for them all.
Taunton School has helped out by loaning pitches, but Taunton Deane Council has been unable to answer the call.
The Deane is already finding it hard to meet demand for football pitches and wants league officials to extend the season to accommodate all the matches.
Also, new Football Association rules meaning different-sized pitches are needed for younger children have piled more pressure on the council.
A council spokeswoman said the rugby club’s success in attracting so many young players benefits the community, but added: “Unfortunately, not all sports pitches are suitable for rugby – some are too close to roads, homes or other facilities, such as children’s playgrounds.
“The council would encourage sports clubs to talk to schools or private land owners or developers to see whether they could help local clubs find suitable grounds.”
Cllr Catherine Herbert, executive councillor for sports, parks and leisure, said: “The council provides a large number of pitches but, unfortunately, suitable land isn’t easy to find to accommodate the rapid expansion and success of clubs like Taunton RFC.”
TRFC Under-14s coach Jason Wallis said: “The council’s basically saying it hasn’t got anywhere for us because rugby players kick the ball harder than footballers – I’m not sure that’s true.
“We’re the victims of our own success with 200 kids in our youth section, but we need help because we haven’t got enough pitches for training and matches.
“Taunton School have been a godsend, but the fear is that if the council can’t help, then kids who aren’t getting regular rugby could drift away from the game.”