Plenty of good news stories surrounding the club this week. Firstly, we were delighted to announce the formation of Barrow Raiders Ladies. They see joining the Raiders as their next progressive step and our development plan makes continual reference to growing the community game and we believe this is a perfect fit.

There is absolutely no reason why Barrow Raiders Ladies can’t climb to the very top of their sport. If the club provide the infrastructure, then we believe the quality players and coaches will be attracted. Women’s sport in general has exploded in the last decade and there are plenty of sponsors that want to be associated with the growth in female sport. We wouldn’t have brought them into the fold if they didn’t have ambition. We had no desire to simply be a host for a social club but in our meetings that ambition has shone through. We will be working together with some ambitious targets for success on the field and growth off it and there will be opportunities to get involved to help for the right calibre people.

Simply aligning the Ladies team with the professional club is not the single answer for growth. It may well help to attract players in the short term, but the club is committed to work with the local leagues to try to encourage the community clubs to also invest in ladies and girl’s rugby. Barrow Raiders will still be hosting their Raider Girls sessions when restrictions are lifted, and we would like to think that a conveyor belt of talent will emerge from those sessions to feed the Ladies.

If we indulged in some blue sky thinking it would be fantastic if every community club were to run a girl’s teams for the teenage years that fed into their open age teams and the very best players played semi-professional rugby at the top of Super League for Barrow Ladies that was attracting the absolute best talent in Cumbria. Basically, a replica of the current men’s set-up. Whilst that sort of thinking may seem wishful thinking your ambition is only limited by your own mind. It would be good if that were a long-term target and we got pretty close.

More good news was that we finally got the sign-off to play matches behind closed doors. You will be forgiven for thinking that playing without a crowd would be a formality in terms of organisation but there has been a mountain of paperwork produced, with protocols put in place, to ensure the safe return of matches.

Ironically, there is a slight chance that we don’t need to use them. We have gone back to Keighley with an offer of a gate share for our only scheduled league fixture that was due BCD and we are still hoping that they will agree to moving a day or two to the right. What would be even better would be if the Government were to speed up their roadmap. They say they are driven by data, not dates, and that the vaccination rollout programme is going better than expected so it would be prudent economically to be switched back on sooner. The correlation between infections and deaths has been broken with all the old and vulnerable vaccinated but I fear there are too many vocal scientists with their worst-case scenario predictions ringing in the ear of Government.