Southern Kings Director of Rugby and interim head coach, Robbie Kempson, said his charges have adjusted well to training under the COVID-19 safety guidelines and that the players were as happy as “kids with their hands in the cookie jar” to be back on the field.
The Southern Kings are among eight professional teams that received the green light to return to non-contact training this week, and although the training field is a different world to that which the coaches and players are used to, the camaraderie and banter is as strong as ever.
“Training is vastly different to before with the strict safety protocols in place and with the players training in small groups, but everyone is delighted to be back,” said Kempson.
“It is good to know that we are moving in a direction of things possibly returning to some form of normality, and it has been nice to see the banter between the players on the field.
“The safety aspect of things starts early in the mornings as everyone has to fill in a COVID-19 and general wellness questionnaire and has to be screened by the doctor before training.
“At training the players clean their hands after practically every length across the field, while they each have their own demarcated square where they can put on their boots and store their belongings during training.”
Kempson added that the coaches also had to adjust: “We are separated on the field, and the days are longer because we split the squad into two groups that train on separate days of the week, so every 45 minutes we have a new group of five players to work with each day.”
The former Springbok prop was satisfied with the players’ fitness levels after four months of lockdown, and he said as a team they were making steady progress in their return-to-play strategy.
“The players continued with base fitness throughout lockdown, so the fitness is there, it is now a case of ramping up our training,” Kemspon said.
“We have, however, had to adapt our strength and power training this week because we are based at the St George’s Park B Field due to the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium being utilised as a COVID-19 quarantine centre, so we have a few weights out on the field at the moment.
“But we have a nice jovial environment at training with a lot of jokes being shared, so everyone is excited.”