WINNINGTON Park Rugby Club remain “strong and commercially robust” in spite of the pandemic – thanks largely to the support of their members.

On-field action has been off the cards for a full year now but off the pitch, the club has been planning for a return to some kind of normality at Burrows Hill.

New appointments have been made, facilities freshened up and innovations made to allow Park to thrive as Covid retreats.

“At last, we can now see a path that will allow us all to return to some sort of rugby normality,” chairman Paul Dean said in an update to members.

“Firstly, we would like to formally thank each and every member who has continued to pay their membership during these strange and challenging times.

“Without this continued support, I know it would have been incredibly difficult to be in the fortunate position we find ourselves in.

“Because of this, your club remains strong and commercially robust.

“We have been extremely prudent with our finances and implemented a number of different actions that focused on reducing our payments (pausing TV subscriptions, waste collection, negotiating different heat/lighting contracts etc) and scrutinising any outlay we have to make to ensure it is warranted and justified.”

Winnington Park chairman Paul Dean

Winnington Park chairman Paul Dean

When members return to Burrows Hill, they will find a deep-cleaned clubhouse and renewed baths and showers in the changing facilities.

The go-ahead has also been given for a complete refurbishment of the clubhouse’s kitchen and gents’ toilets.

New roles for Tracey Glendinning and Steve Berg have also allowed the club to flourish off the field.

As the new head of business development, Glendinning has already secured significant sponsorship for the girls’ under 18s team and the boys’ Colts, meaning new kits can be purchased for both.

Berg joins the club in a newly-created position as director of women’s and girls’ rugby, with the previously-stated aim of making that section the best in Cheshire.

Several planned social events such as the WPRFC Summer Ball and a celebration of the 25th anniversary of Park’s Pilkington Cup clash with Wasps have been moved to next year, with several Wasps players having expressed an interest in attending the latter.

The club are planning a series of social events for later this summer when restrictions allow in order to create momentum for a return to the full rugby season in early-Autumn.

Friday night matches for the third team and junior sides are also being explored when rugby returns.

On the subject of the juniors, there was an overwhelming response to a charity challenge laid down in January.

The aim was to log and record how many miles their team could collectively complete by running, walking or cycling in the run up to the start of the Six Nations.

The target was 800 miles which is the distance from Burrows Hill to all the national rugby stadiums in the UK.

With teams from under 6s to the under 15s getting involved, the total mileage was just under the 20,000 mark.

With the women’s team also getting involved in challenges of their own, players of all ages are in good shape for the return of the game they love.

A return to full-contact fixtures is earmarked for June, with all adult and age-grade competitions under full rules set to return as normal from September if Covid restrictions allow.