KEIGHLEY RUFC’s director of rugby, Russ Gibson, has admitted participation and finances are a worry for the club going forward.

With the new national lockdown stopping any training or matches for at least the next few weeks, Keighley have launched a Crowdfunder campaign to help them survive the coronavirus pandemic.

The lockdown has also sadly halted the touch and pass tournament that had been taking place between Keighley, Bradford Salem, Baildon, Wharfedale, Skipton and North Ribblesdale.

It gets worse too, with the Rugby Football Union now deciding that all leagues below the Premiership and Championship will be cancelled for 2020/21, meaning no regular guaranteed Saturday games until next September.

Gibson said: “There is the potential to do some non-league rugby before next autumn, in the form of local friendlies or cups.

“We’d need to discuss the rules that would be in place, but we’re hopeful it could be as early as New Year.

“We’re hanging our hat on that at the moment, as we want to keep some momentum.”

That momentum had come in the form of regular training and that six-team tournament.

Asked if that competition was now dead in the water, Gibson said: “We hope to keep that tournament up, but we’d have to get back to Stage D of the government and RFU’s protocol before we can even play touch and pass against other clubs.

“We’d hope to play contact rugby at some point in this tournament, or at least in the New Year, because that’s what the lads crave and it’s hard to keep them motivated when it’s just touch and pass.”

Motivation is a real issue at the moment, with Gibson saying: “When we started pre-season, we had 40-odd lads turning up for training, just before this new lockdown it was in the mid to high 20s.

“Lads are losing interest across all our teams, from the firsts downwards, and it is a challenge to keep them motivated.

“We’ll definitely see players retiring during all of this too, and that will be a new challenge to bring people through next season.”

As for the club’s youth set-up, Gibson said: “We’ve had discussions with the coaches about the juniors, about doing everything we can to keep them focused.

“The numbers for the juniors at training were really good before this new lockdown, so that’s very encouraging.”

Asked how he expects Keighley to cope financially over the coming months, Gibson said: “Like many clubs, we survive on bar takings, both on a matchday and hiring out the facilities for events.

“We’ve had no meaningful revenue since March, so finance is a big concern.

“We’ve just launched a Crowdfunder campaign to help us bridge that gap and come out of the pandemic in a healthy position.

“We’re up to about £12,000 of our £15,000 target so far, so it’s going well.”