TAUNTON Titans head coach Tony Yapp said there was a sense of inevitability about the National Clubs Association (NCA) announcement that its cup competition - intended to start next month - was cancelled.

The proposed cup competition was to replace the 2020/21 league season, with Taunton to face Barnstaple, Clifton, Dings Crusaders, Plymouth Albion and Redruth in the regionalised group stage.

However, following a series of meetings last week, it was agreed that there would be insufficient time to stage an authentic competition, given the continued uncertainty over when training and playing will be allowed post-lockdown.

READ MORE: Titans' wait goes on as cup competition cancelled

It means that the Titans face more than a year without an official fixture, having last played on March 14, when a 48-10 victory over Esher left them top of the National 2 South standings - and the Rugby Football Union (RFU) best playing record formula saw them promoted to National 1, in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic preventing the 2019/20 season from being finished.

Reacting to the announcement, Yapp told the County Gazette: “I think it was inevitable really.

“We said we would be involved [in the cup] if it was safe to do so, but we have been realistic as well.

“In September there was talk about the season starting before Christmas, then a start date of January 16 proved unrealistic, too.

“Of course we’re desperate to get back to playing, but we know that it’s difficult in light of the [Covid-19] case numbers.”

With no matches, or even training, to look forward to in the immediate future, Yapp said that the focus was on communication with the playing squad.

“We’ve kept touching base with the players and checked they’re OK,” he said.

“The players have accepted that there won’t be any rugby until next season.

“If the lockdown is eased, cases come down and it’s safe to do so, we hope to get back into training, one day a week, in March or April.

“It would just be an opportunity to play some games and enjoy each other’s company again.”

Should NCA rugby be ready to return in time for the 2021/22 season, it will see Taunton playing in National 1.

The irony of achieving a long-term goal - promotion - and then having to wait an entire year to actually play in the league above is not lost on Yapp.

“It’s the mental side of it - we’ve prepared for National 1 for a long time, but now we’ve had a year off.

“We will be talking to the players individually about their goals [for 2021/22 and beyond] and what they want from us as coaches.

“We’ll be talking a lot about what the players need to do over the summer to get fit and ready for pre-season.

“We don’t want to be carrying people into pre-season, or having unnecessary injuries through players not being fit enough.”

Are there any positives to be taken from the long break?

“You always look to put a positive spin on things,” Yapp added.

“I’ve been at home with my two kids, who are home schooling, and to spend a bit more time with my family has been great.

“I’ve been involved in club, school and university rugby since I was a teenager, so to have Saturdays off during the year has been different, but I also think the break has done me some good.

“It’s been an opportunity to reflect. Chris [Brown, forwards coach] and I have met on a regular basis via Zoom, and have put together a five-year plan for Taunton RFC.

“It has been a chance for me, and the players too - to reset, and reflect on where I am as a coach, but we do all miss the game and our team-mates as well.”