Fixtures mean little

RAIDERS’ first-ever trip to Esher Rugby Club has been pencilled in for 5 September.

Celebrating success: The Raiders squad at their recent annual awards afternoon at Footes lane.
 (Picture by Mike Marshall, 28500567)
Celebrating success: The Raiders squad at their recent annual awards afternoon at Footes lane. (Picture by Mike Marshall, 28500567)

However, Guernsey’s director of rugby Jordan Reynolds says there is as much chance of that happening as him riding a winner at the nearby Sandown Park race course.

The National Two South clubs have been issued with a set of draft fixtures taking in the first half of the season if it went ahead as usual from the first weekend of September, but the effect of the coronavirus pandemic means that competitive league rugby at this level is highly unlikely to start until the following month at the earliest.

‘They did say this [the draft fixtures] was just to give us an idea, but it’s not even in the framework of when we might start,’ said Reynolds, referring to the RFU models published a few weeks ago.

Those models were based on three potential starting windows depending on when it is safe to return to play.

A full season of 30 games will only be possible if play starts by 3 October.

The next window, which ends on 28 November, would see an adapted programme of 22 games in East and West conferences while the final window, which has a 30 January deadline, would allow for a half-season of 15 matches.

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‘If we start in October and have a full season, that would mean no bye weekends and playing all 30 games without a break, which is a pretty scary thought but in the circumstances you take what you can get.

‘Personally, I’m probably leaning towards a November start when it would be in conferences, although we don’t know where they would put us. Ideally we would be in the East, not because it would be easier games as there would be tough sides in both, but it would be easier for travel purposes.

‘No matter when we start, though, we will be ready. We will taper our sessions to make sure we are not over-working the guys until we get word that the season’s going to kick off.’

The good news is that Raiders and Vikings are set for a run out next month against visiting teams from the Isle of Man.

‘We are almost there. We have been in regular contact with them and they are talking about bringing around 65 people over on the weekend of 15 August,’ Reynolds said.

Raiders and Vikings, who are now into their fifth week of pre-season training, would come up against Douglas Rugby Club and an Isle of Man Select XV respectively in a double-header at Footes Lane.

‘Our training has been going well, we are pretty much into our contact module, which is good because we have to make sure we are ready for games in August.

‘The numbers have been good. We have been getting 30-odd for Raiders and 30-odd for Vikings and we would probably put out over 50 guys for the two games,’ Reynolds added.

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