LIKE every other sports club across the country, Helensburgh Rugby Club’s youth sections have been feeling the effects of the Covid-19 lockdown, with matches and training sessions cancelled.

But efforts to keep the next generation of local rugby players busy, and fit, are continuing at pace – and one group of Ardencaple youngsters has caught the eye of supporters at a slightly higher level than Helensburgh.

The local club’s P4 players were set the task of taking part in a ‘Pass the Ball, Not the Virus’ challenge, with the twin messages of keeping the rugby bug alive and controlling the spread of the coronavirus.

Their efforts have been featured as part of a series of video clips on the ‘XVIth Warrior’ Facebook page – the home of some of the Glasgow Warriors’ most enthusiastic online fans.

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The challenge has seen clubs across the country compile video clips of squad members receiving the ball from one team-mate and passing it on to another – all done in line with social distancing rules, of course, and with the help of some straightforward video editing tools.

And the Helensburgh P4s were delighted to see their efforts featured on the XVIth Warrior page – where virtually the whole of the Helensburgh challenge was shown alongside clips from other clubs.

Coach Mark Bone told the Advertiser that his young charges were feeling the effects of the lockdown this week more than most.

“Last weekend should have been our annual mini rugby festival,” he said, “and this Sunday was to have been our annual prize-giving, but of course both of those have had to be called off because of the pandemic.

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“We’ve also missed out on our plans to go on a tour to Mull, which was a big disappointment.

“Every club recognises that Keeping kids occupied during the lockdown is a real challenge, so when I saw other clubs were doing this ‘Pass the Ball, Not the Virus’ thing, I thought ‘that’s a good idea, we’ll have a go at that’.

“Then one Helensburgh member sent me a link to the Warriors supporters’ version, and they were asking for videos – and it was great to see that most of ours featured on one of their clips.

“Children of that age have so much going on in their lives at the moment that I didn’t want to overload them – the important thing for us is trying to promote to the kids that they can keep up their basic rugby skills while they’re going out for their exercise.

“We’ve also been telling them that they can go along and use the club’s grounds for their exercise, in line with the rules, and several of them have sent me videos of them doing just that.”

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