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For the rugby fans of Ulster, we’re living out a rather disappointing season. Suffice to say, many of us are feeling some degree of cabin-fever. That said, a once in a lifetime change can also produce once in a lifetime opportunities, and that’s what we want to look at today. To grow, entertain, or simply stay sane, here are some of the best ways we’ve found for Ulster locals to fight off the rugby withdrawals.

Learn a New Skill, or Perfect an Old One

As adults, we’re often taken with the desire to learn something new. The reality of busy modern life, however, can leave us without the time or energy to even begin. This might just be the perfect chance to forge something new, though, or brush up on older skill which needs some work.

Leaning a new skill has already proved a hot pursuit for many in isolation, and this is only going to get more useful over time. When Lottoland lists 25 productive ways to kill boredom, that’s one of the ideas to which productive people will gravitate towards most. Whether through practice, watching YouTube, or studying, this can stave off boredom and make us better people.

We’ve personally spent a good deal of time practising drop kick accuracy. In this case, we simply set up a few small targets in the back garden, and give an hour a day working on this one specific skill. It’s not much, but even in this short time we’ve seen improvement, and there are many other areas of the game which might see growth through similar methods. On the teaching end, coaching courses online can be a huge help, and Ulster-specific organisations can be found for cheap, or even free.

Clean and Organise

Whether a home, computer hard drive, or, more importantly, the closet or shed in which all your rugby gear is stored, most of us will have some area in our lives where cleaning has long been put off as non-urgent. This time might not constitute an organizational emergency, but isolation still presents a prime opportunity to get everything in order. There are many basic methods here, such as patching shirts and replacing the pins in old pumps, which are relatively simple, as a start.

This can be especially helpful if you’ve a lot of older gear or memorabilia lying around. Getting into the effort of cleaning or organizing here might not be the outwardly engaging, but the end result will leave you a lot happier with the effort. Another possibility is to prepare unused gear for eventual donation to charities, such as the IRFU Charitable Trust or Extern.

Exercise

If you’re an avid player, then missing practice and the game could be doing hell to your strength and fitness levels. Even if you’re not, being stuck in isolation isn’t great for keeping up to date with exercise. To combat this, consider taking a different tack to exercise in your new environment.

If you’re lucky enough to have your own property in a more rural area around, say, the likes of Stewartstown or Rostrevor, you might consider creating a short running course. Otherwise, there is a whole range of living-room exercises which can keep you in shape, or even improve your condition.

Properly utilised, you can even work on rehabbing old rugby injuries, to make your return that much more effective. In fact, there are even highly regarded physiotherapists operating by online consultation during the lockdown, who can help give advice and set out a recovery schedule. Rugby Renegade Physio is one such example, which is supported by big names in Ulster rugby like Billy Burns.

Exercise
Exercise” (CC BY 2.0) by blondinrikard

Plan for the Future

Once things eventually go back to normal, you might be able to pick up your life where you left it. With the right preparation though, you could come out of isolation even more skilled, fit, and knowledgeable in your game than when you went in. Coaches could spend this time setting out a training schedule for their players. Players could build a skill on a skill to raise it to new heights. Those working on an injury could plan their strategies post-release.

Even if you don’t play the game directly, you could help in supporting active players and your community through charity and local support. There are so many possible avenues available that we often don’t consider, and this time gives us the chance to more closely examine what exactly rugby in Ulster means.

Planning
Planning” (CC BY 2.0) by Jamiesrabbits

In the end, our time in isolation is likely to be difficult, but like any challenge, the outcome will be in how you tackle it. Don’t leave yourself to boredom, and consider a more proactive approach for better mental, physical, and community health. For yourself, for your team, and for Ulster, stay safe, and make the best of it.

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