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Rugby clubs braced for another wet weekend
Rugby officials are bracing themselves for another wave of postponements tomorrow.
Clubs are being asked to pull out all the stops to get games staged.
But several pitches have not been set foot upon since well before Christmas – and the outlook to play match catch-up soon is bleak.
Tottonians’ aptly-named Water Lane ground was ruled out during the week – the last match on their first team field was against Trojans on December 14.
Only a helping hand from Southampton RFC allowed them to entertain Effingham & Leatherhead in London 2 South-West last weekend.
Tottonians were happy to give up home advantage to get their match against Winchester played, but the signs were another postponment until March 15.
Winchester coach Andy Fields said: “If it carries on like this, I can’t see it happening, but I would like it played because we have a strong squad and we are playing better at the moment.”
It’s a little better at Fordingbridge thanks to a team of volunteers who have been manning pumps in one corner of their Recreation Ground pitch to help get games played.
Bridge also had Snows Group Hampshire 1 rivals Southampton to thank for allowing them to take on Andover at Test Park on January 18.
First team manager Ian Brown explained: “For the last two Saturdays we have had willing volunteers pumping the water off from 8am and we got the games played. As far as we are concerned, we are going for it again.”
Bridge will make regular checks on the ground before the Millbrook fixture.
A late decision will also be made on the Trojans v London Irish game at Stoneham Park.
Trojans chairman Shaun Magill said: “One moment we think it is drying out and the next we think the weekend is in doubt.
“In the past we have always been very well drained, but even we are suffering.
“We have not had a game there since Christmas – it’s just an exceptional volume of water.”
Eastleigh are still hoping their scheduled SW3 game at Camberley can be played on an Army pitch at Aldershot. They will be without Paul Taylor, Tony Fudio, John Weatherall who are all unavailable, and Martin Kirby who was red carded last weekend.
Hampshire RFU executive director Rick Scott , pictured left, said: “Everybody is hacked off but there’s nothing we can do about it. Everybody plays on grass and there nowhere for the rain to go.
“With rain expected Friday and Saturday we expect another batch of matches to be called off again.”
The London South-East organising committee is encouraging clubs to play on their opponents’ pitch if it is dry and their own facilities are still under water.
“If that means a team travelling to one place twice in a season, then so be it,” said Scott. “Clubs are being asked to look long and hard about moving the fixture somewhere else.
“The South-East organising committee are thinking of making that part of the administration instructions for next year. If a ground is fit to play clubs will potentially have to play away twice.”
But Scott admitted that can bring extra pressure on clubs who will have to fork out on coach travel at the last minute at a time when they would be relying on a home fixture to bring in much needed money.
He added: “To some of the clubs, the bars are their lifeline and clearly revenue is not going to be coming in if they are playing away.
“If you lose two or three pre-match lunches that will affect club revenue.
“I’m not sure off the top of my head what the answer to that is.”
But he also said the on-going problem was nothing compared to what so many householders are suffering in other parts of the country.
“At the end of the day we are losing rugby games, which is dreadful, but tens of thousands of people are going without power.
“We have to get it in perspective – we are losing rugby and they are losing their livelihoods and even their lives.”
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