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Rugby: Douglas face challenge at Altrincham Kersal

Ravenscroft Manx Rugby structure undergoes changes 

Report by Dave Christian:

Douglas have a big challenge this week as they travel to Altrincham Kersal ion Regional 2 North West. AK are level with Douglas on points and have two games in hand. Due to the various weather problems, they haven’t played since 3 December and this has given them something of a backlog. Douglas won at Port-e-Chee back in October and may well fancy their chances, especially on the back of a win last week.

Availability and injury will be the two important factors this weekend but of coach Phil Cringle can get something close to last week’s side, they have a sporting chance of bagging another win.


Vagabonds host Ellesmere Port

Vagas too will fancy their chances this weekend in a season where there haven’t been that many. Ellesmere Port are the visitors and in the away fixture Vagas lost by just a point. The stats however don’t look good for coach Franzy Germishuys. Vagas are bottom and eight points adrift and everyone above them has at least one game in hand. They have the bluntest attack and the leakiest defence. That said, they showed a real sense of purpose against Dukinfield just before Christmas and if they can recapture that, they have a good shot against Ellesmere Port.


Big task for Vagas Ladies

Unbeaten and runaway league leaders Southport are the visitors at Ballafletcher this week. They’ve won 6 from 6 and have dropped just one point from a possible maximum of thirty. Vagas lie fifth but could go as high as second with a seemingly unlikely win. They are however pretty much at full strength for this game plus a full bench. Vagas lost the away game back in October 48-7, but have had some big wins against Southport in 2019 and 2020 so on paper have a chance.


All change in Ravenscroft Manx rugby

The Ravenscroft Manx Shield is brought to a shuddering halt and is replaced by a new look Ravenscroft Manx Trophy instead. The reasons for the change are a little complex but have been shaped in part by restrictions on the way Rugby was played in England during the covid period.

When the covid curtain came down it appears that across England (the Isle of Man is part of England for rugby purposes) a significant number of senior players hung up their boots. There was a restriction on younger players coming through to replace them until 1 January 2022 and the knock on effect was a contraction in the number of adults playing Rugby. While this is shifting very slowly back to its pre-covid position, adult rugby has been left with a short term issue which is affecting both league rugby up to Vagabonds’ level and sometimes higher – clubs don’t have sufficient players.

This season domestically Ravenscroft Rugby started positively. Ramsey and Southern Nomads were able to field two teams each, Douglas and combined forces and managed one while Castletown and Western Vikings managed one each. As the Manx Shield went on however, numbers have started to fall and the dreaded “walkover” has started to appear more frequently on the results sheets.

Ravenscroft Manx Rugby is run by the Manx Executive Committee and in the run up to Christmas the Committee decided that the Manx Shield simply wasn’t working and needed some dynamic surgery. All remaining Shield games have now been marked as postponed and a new competition will take its place until Douglas & Vagabonds complete their league seasons in mid-March when the Ravenscroft Manx Cup will start.

The new competition will be the Ravenscroft Manx Trophy and will be played in what the RFU call a “cluster format”. Three teams will turn up to each venue and ensure that all available players are combined to form two teams. They will play each other. A win for the home side will give them six championship points while a win for the away two sides will give three each. There are sufficient rounds to ensure everyone gets one home round. This tweak will ensure that wherever possible fifteen aside rugby will be played and as many players as possible get to participate. Formats like this are being deployed at regional levels all across England and the Isle of Man is in no way unique.

In week one this Saturday Castletown will face Ramsey’s Reds and Western Vikings at Poulsom Park while also in the South Southern Nomads Greens will face Ramsey’s Blues and the Eastern Barbarians. Kick offs remain at the usual 2.15pm.


Fixtures, 14 January, 2023

Regional 2 North West

Altrincham Kersal v Douglas @ Altrincham Kersal ko tbc

Counties 3 ADM Lancs/Cheshire

Vagabonds v Ellesmere Port@ Ballafletcher ko 2.15

Women’s NC1 North West

Vagabonds v Southport @ Ballafletcher ko 2.00pm

Ravenscroft Manx Trophy

Castletown, Ramsey Reds & Western Vikings @ Castletown ko 2.15pm

Southern Nomads Greens, Ramsey Blues & Eastern Barbarians @ Ballakilley Park ko 2.15pm

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