by Joe Heaton

Otley v Moseley, at Cross Green, National League Division 1,
Saturday, January 10th 2009, k.o. 2.00 pm

Otley Rugby Club is in trouble – deep trouble. The West Riding club is last but one in National League One, just above Manchester, It is not, however, Moseley’s job to help the Yorkshiremen out of this situation. On the contrary, a win with a bonus point would be invaluable for Moseley’s league position and status next year. However much Moseley people enjoy the hospitality and rugby comradeship in a visit to Otley, sympathy on the park must not enter the thinking.

In recent years the Yorkshiremen have yo-yoed between National Leagues Two & One. In 2006-07, after seven seasons in the higher flight, they were relegated after the last match of the season, only to bounce back after winning League Two in April of last year. So far, however, they have again found the going tough against the better financed and more experienced teams in National League One and with the improvement in playing standards in the division during their absence.

In spite of the very real threat of immediate relegation at the end of this season, Otley have retained their longstanding coach, Peter Clegg; he, in turn, has kept faith with the core of his squad and now has a very loyal team. It will have to be seen whether they are good enough to stay in the division after this season..

Way back in balmy September, at Billesley Common, Moseley comfortably beat Otley 36-26 and earning a bonus point. Playing away from home, however, is a very different matter. Moseley will have to turn up with a more positive attitude to the one displayed for most of the match at Coventry on Boxing Day if the travelling supporters are not to be disappointed again. Much will depend on how the players respond to last week’s postponement of the match against Exeter and the lack of good training during the cold spell.

The results of Otley’s last three fixtures are:

5th January 2009 Cornish Pirates 55 v Otley 13
26th December 2008 Otley 10 v Leeds 66
20th December 2008 Esher 48 v Otley 16

While Otley has played nineteen games this season the recent bad weather and postponements elsewhere has made the present league table of only limited value. Furthermore, although there are encouraging signs up North, unless the weather improves considerably during the latter part of the week, this match may be postponed, either due to a frozen pitch or a water logged ground, thus increasing the uncertainty.

Points and positions apart, Moseley will be visiting one of loveliest areas of Northern England and a genuine rugby club that has not sold its soul to mammon. For that the Yorkshiremen are to be commended.


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