THE boots and gumshields may be away for a few weeks – or in the case of some players, a few months.
But the rugby community are not resting their drinking arms.
Now is the time when clubs stage their annual dinners or awards evenings, where the stars of the season are recognised.
West, Rovers, Hartlepool and BBOB, the only club with something to shout about this season, have all either dined or drank, or both.
It’s not been a year to savour for West, who have been forced to promote many of their young products into their side in National Three North.
The club’s difficulties have been well chronicled on the night Mail’s pages, long-term injuries, player departures, suspensions etc.
But the young players who have stepped up to the mark will have gained experience and West will look to bounce straight back next season in North One East.
So, perhaps it was fitting that one of the club’s greatest products was there at Brinkburn as the guest of honour.
Michael Young, who learned his rugby in the West junior set-up before becoming a star of Newcastle Falcons and the England Sevens team, dished out the prizes.
Ryan Painter, who made his own the scrum-half jersey Young once wore with pride, collected the Players’ Player of the Year trophy.
Winger and centre Andrew Cheslin, whose campaign was interrupted by a harsh citing ban, gained some consolation with the Coaches’ Player of the Year shield.
Nathan Myers, part of the big and talented rugby-mad family, was rewarded for some outstanding performances with the Young Player of the Year prize.
Stand-off Stuart Waites, a former team-mate in the minis of Young, not surprisingly was the leading points scorer.
Rovers tucked into some scran before they tucked into the presentations.
The assembled diners held a minute’s applause in appreciation of late president, Bill Bowden, whose seat on the top table remained empty as a mark of respect.
The forwards not only cleaned their plates but they cleaned up the prizes.
Rovers had lost two high-calibre prop last summer, but Andrew Flounders proved a revelation in the front row.
The forward, known as “Fuzz” picked up two trophies – the Supporters Player of the Year and the Most Improved Player.
Andrew Dring had enjoyed a brilliant season, climaxing in a call up for the Durham squad in their final county championship fixture at Yorkshire, was recognised with the club’s Player of the Year trophy.
The number eight was also runner-up to Flounders in the Supporters’ poll, which saw flanker Lee Maddison and scrum-half Taz Pelser joint third.
Boys Brigade Old Boys were the shining lights this season, winning the Durham Northumberland Three title and Durham Trophy double.
Player coaches Gareth Foreman, Andrew Lilley and Darren Smith, of course, made a significant difference but the “old guard” made a massive contribution.
And the club turned out in force at the Cosmopolitan to celebrate their achievements.
Skipper Anthony Egglestone was the Clubman of the Year while front row powerhouse Matty Thornton took the top try scorer trophy on 27. An incredible figure and his touchdown haul wasn’t bad either.
Andrew Arnell marked his first season at Brigade with the Player of the Year trophy.
SEE Tuesday’s Mail for full story and pictures