As Covid-19 restrictions are lifted across the country, sport returns to the masses

When Mark Hutchins was appointed captain of the Southampton Solent men’s Rugby Team, he would not have imagined such a dramatic turn of events as Covid-19 plagued the globe.

The pandemic has warranted heavy restrictions on day-to-day life, meaning sports away from the professional scene have taken a back seat, and athletes such as Hutchins have been unable to enjoy taking to the field.

“It’s my first game this year and my last game at home, so it’s a bit of an intense one!”

Pre-match preparations

“It’s been over a year now, our last game for the University was about March time of last year, but I think everyone is ready for it, it’s been a long time coming.”

The prolonged absence from the sport only adds incentive to get out and perform on the pitch against Winchester men’s, who Solent will be facing on

Wednesday in their maiden fixture of the campaign.

Of course, there have been difficulties getting the squad back together and maintaining cohesion with many players unable to return to campus and participate with travel bans imposed on different areas of the United Kingdom.

There was however a welcome boost as the team managed to reform a determined core, get accustomed to the demanding training regime and take comfort in the return of some key members.

“Covid’s obviously taken a big hit, we’ve had lots of players away. We have got players that are from Ireland, players from Wales and Scotland, so there’s obviously the different Covid rules.

Men’s contact training.

“But we’ve literally had one of our key players, arguably, back today.”

Like many others across the country, Solent rugby team is reintegrating itself with the busy schedule of University sports, and a belated start to the season will hopefully be backed up with a big win as normality begins to return.