Clubs looking forward to getting stuck in to adapted rules game

RUGBY is set to finally return this weekend with Plymstock Albion Oaks due to entertain higher league Devonport Services in an adapted rules game on Saturday.

The fixture at Horsham Fields is due to kick-off at 1pm, but is dependent on the weather and no Covid-related issues.

Clubs around England have been given the green light to play without scrums or maul from Friday.

Saturday’s match is set to be played in three 30 minutes periods to give everyone a chance to experience the new version of the game.

“Our boys have not played for a long time and so are looking forward to it, although it looks like it is going to be cold, wet and windy,” said Devonport Services coach Mike Lewis.

Services, who have re-signed Harrison Elliott after nearly 10 years away playing rugby league, will follow this weekend’s game with a Boxing Day fixture against South West Premier side Ivybridge at Cross-in-Hand.

Both clubs normally play internal games over the festival period, but this year have decided to play each other for the Oxo Cup.

“It will be a traditional Boxing Day game,” said Lewis. “It will be a bit of fun and a way of getting out of the house.”

Ivybridge’s head coach Gareth Elliott added: “The guys are desperate to play some rugby as it has been so long. It should be good – the main thing is just playing some rugby again.”

Ivybridge and Services will find themselves coming up against each other when the RFU cluster competitions start at the end of January as a replacement to league rugby.

The Bridgers and Devonport will join Okehampton and Brixham in a mini league of four teams.

Services are a league below their three group opponents but have played them all recently and are looking forward to getting stuck into the adapted rules competition, which is due to start on January 23.

“The Boxing Day game will be a bit of fun but when it comes to the end of January it will be quite serious,” said Devonport coach Lewis.

“We rarely get to play these teams in a competitive environment, but when we have played them before in pre-season games they have been pretty competitive and close games, which we have taken confidence out of. We are really looking forward to the challenge. I think they will attract good crowds.”

Ivybridge’s Elliott added: “We are pretty happy with the group, but we are just happy to play some rugby.”

Elliott admits having no scrums or mauls will make it a totally different game but he believes his side will adapt well.

“It is an unknown,” said the Ivybridge coach. “There will be a lot more ball in play as there won’t be that stop-start nature of it. It will be interesting, but I think we will be quite well versed in it. We are quite a fit team and do have the skill and ability to play.

“We will still be looking to play front-five forwards. Hopefully, all clubs will as that’s the point of rugby union – having different people playing, otherwise it becomes like rugby league.

“It will be interesting and we have chatted about it already and we have a few things that we will work on in training.

“We have had quite good training numbers. Nearly everyone is quite keen to play. There’s a few guys that can’t commit at the moment, but we have a healthy squad for that Boxing Day game.”

In the other forthcoming cluster competitions, Plymstock Albion Oaks and Tavistock will join fellow Devon sides Cullompton, Withycombe, Topsham and Torquay in a group of six for a level eight mini league, while OPMs, Tamar Saracens, Old Techs and Plymouth Argaum will join Salcombe and Dartmouth in a level nine group.

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