THE MAN behind a new rugby team in North Devon hopes it will have a very short future.
Bideford, Ilfracombe, South Molton and Torrington have all admitted defeat this season and shut down their colts teams because they did not enough have enough players.
While the Barnstaple colts set-up is relatively healthy, a number of young players from those other clubs were left with no rugby to play.
So Wayne Reed, the Devon RFU Community Rugby Coach (CRC) for North Devon, stepped in and set up the North Devon Barbarians colts team.
The side is run almost exclusively through a Facebook group, which has attracted 63 members.
Reed hopes it will be enough that, before long, the clubs can revive their colts teams.
"Rugby is a massive game in North Devon but a lot of clubs have taken their eye off the ball," said Reed. "Hopefully we can build it back up again.
"To have four teams concentrated in the area is quite unusual.
"They couldn't put out their own teams and we don't want to lose those players to the game.
"The team is just to encourage people, keep them playing and get others back into the game.
"Any players interested in playing can go on Facebook and find the page with details of games and just turn up and play.
"I didn't want the team to have its own identity, it's not a new rugby team."
The Barbarians were beaten by Okehampton at South Molton on Saturday, which followed a win over Tiverton and draw with Crediton. Not that results are important.
"Okehampton are one of the best colts sides around," said Reed.
"Everyone wants to win but it's more about having a game.
"As soon as the game was over on Saturday, a couple of players were on Facebook asking when the next fixture was. They were desperate to play rugby.
"We had 25 at the second fixture. The numbers weren't as good (on Saturday) and we have lost some momentum.
"I'm keen to get going again. We have three more fixtures arranged at the moment in February and March and I'm looking to get at least another two.
"I don't want to lose the players who are there. If we keep playing this season, next year they will be old enough to play senior rugby."
While youth rugby seems to be thriving, Reed said increasingly players are being lost from the game when they reach their late teens.
"The drop-off in rugby is a big thing nationally, not just in North Devon," he said.
"It's just that particular age, between 16 and 20. They are dropping out for various reasons – college, girlfriends, working on Saturdays. We have to look at how we can make it work."
Reed is a prop who, at 41, still makes the occasional appearance for Crediton's third XV. He played for Plymouth Albion, had a season with Barnstaple in 2003-04 before joining Cornish All Blacks and has represented Devon and England Counties and played for the Barbarians.
He was appointed to the full-time role as North Devon's CRC last August with a remit to recruit and develop players and coaches.
"There have always been CRCs around but Devon only had one and now we have got four," said Reed, who lives in Crediton.
"My role is not to be a coach for anybody but to help improve coaches by giving them the skills they need.
"Another of our roles is developing other forms of the game – women's and girls' rugby, touch rugby and sevens."
With that in mind, Reed will be running taster sessions at Bideford Rugby Club on February 19 and 26, from 7pm, for anyone interested in playing for a North Devon under-18 women's side. He will also be running a session for girls at Petroc.
"There are a few under-15 teams for girls but they have got nowhere to go after that," said Reed.
"I'm looking for anybody interested in coaching and any girls who want to play."
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