ROMSEY residents have condemned a group of travellers who set up camp on a rugby pitch on Monday evening.

The unauthorised encampment was spotted by members of the Romsey Rugby Club on their training pitch by Southampton Road.

It is believed there may be 15 vehicles on site and the travellers could have gained access to the land through the back of the Romsey Rapids Sports Complex.

Now the rugby club has revealed they have been forced to cancel their fitness training this week, due to the group of travellers.

READ: Community leaders heavily criticise travellers for camping on recreation ground >>> 

This comes after Test Valley community leaders heavily criticised a group of travellers who parked up on Nursling Recreation Ground, Nursling Street, on Friday, June 26.

However, it is believed they are not the same group camping on the training pitch.

Secretary of Romsey Rugby Club, Richard Wood, said: "We were trying to set up a return to fitness training, but obviously that came to a grinding halt this week.

"They have set up behind the Romsey Rapids on the training area and I assume they managed to get the gate open to the pitch."

President of the rugby club, Eric Bailey, said: "Myself and the chairman of the club decided to go the club on Monday to prepare the club house with all of the necessary social distancing measures and we saw the travellers then.

"Our concern is the training area behind the Rapids may well be damaged and we hope they will be moved on by the authorities."

The 70-year-old added training being cancelled this week is not "a significant problem", because it could be "months before" members can play the contact sport again.

However, he did stress it "would be" an issue if the travellers camped on the training pitch for longer than a week.

Eric added it may be possible for Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) to move their training to "the other side of the sports centre" if the local authority gives them the green light.

READ: Local authority takes court action over travellers >>> 

Cllr Dorothy Baverstock, who represents Romsey Cupernham on the borough council, said: "The rugby players spend a lot of their time on the ground and who knows what deposits are going onto the pitches now, such as bodily fluids?

"It is not just adults who play there, but children too, and it is the fact that they will have to play on top of what has been left on the pitches.

"That is why I think people should never be allowed to live on sport pitches."

Romsey Advertiser: Cllr Dorothy Baverstock Cllr Dorothy Baverstock

Deputy leader of TVBC, cllr Nick Adams-King, told the Romsey Advertiser there are believed to be "10 to 15 vehicles that gained access to the pitch by going around the back of the sports centre".

A spokesperson from TVBC said: "Bailiffs acting on the council’s behalf have visited the traveller encampment in Romsey and a direction to leave the grounds has been served yesterday.

"The council has already secured a court date for this week should they not obey that order.”

Romsey Advertiser: Cllr Nick Adams-KingCllr Nick Adams-King

A spokesperson from Hampshire police said: "We were notified about this site at 4.44pm on Monday 29 June.

"We are aware of an unauthorised encampment on fields off Southampton Road, Romsey.

"Officers have visited the site to assess the situation and we are working with the landowner to seek a suitable resolution.”