BIG MATCH PREVIEW -
by Joe Heaton
Two consecutive wins, and up to 7th in the Championship league table! Can Moseley take a decisive step towards escaping the relegation play-offs by beating Bedford at Billesley Common on Saturday afternoon?
Moseley’s excellent win (7- 19) at Rotherham last week moved the club above Plymouth in the RFU Championship table and the relative positions, as at 2nd February, for the four teams competing for the crucial 7th and 8th places are as follows:
P W D L F A BPts Pts Pos
Moseley 19 9 0 10 376 456 5 41 7th
Plymouth Albion 19 8 0 11 320 415 5 37 8th
Rotherham 18 5 0 13 334 427 11 31 9th
Doncaster 16 6 0 10 264 278 6 30 10th
Any warm feeling engendered by the above, however, has to be tempered by the realisation that Moseley’s final two Championship matches are against the teams currently first and second in the league:
20th February Exeter v Moseley
13th March Moseley v Bristol
A daunting prospect, indeed!
The results of Bedford’s last three matches are:
30th January Bedford 19 v Cornish Pirates 16
23rd January Exeter 42 v Bedford 19
2nd January Birmingham/Solihull 10 v Bedford 49
If Moseley does beat Bedford on Saturday, the improvement shown by the backs at Rotherham has to be maintained. In the corresponding away match in November, Bedford won 23-7, a margin that cannot be argued against. Since then, however, the first half of the season’s hole in the centre, that cost Moseley so many tries against, appears to have been plugged. Let us hope that it remains tight.
Bedford, situated fifty miles north of London, on the Great Ouse and the A6, is a typical English county town that greatly values its well supported rugby club.
Bedford RFC was founded in 1886 by the amalgamation of Bedford and Bedford Swifts. Both clubs had close connections with Bedford and Bedford Modern Schools that had (and still have) associations with several of the Oxbridge Colleges. It was not surprising therefore that the new club chose light blue and dark blue for their colours. Bedford has played on its ground in Goldington Road for over one hundred years and, during that time, thirty two Bedford players have been awarded international caps.
The modern history of the Bedford club is remarkably similar to that of Moseley. When the leagues were introduced in 1987-88, Bedford was placed in Division 2. The club was promoted to Division 1 in 1989, for a single season.
In 1996, to enable the club to go professional, the boxing promoter Frank Warren, and a firm called Sports Network, made major investments in Bedford and quality players were recruited. This initially paid off as the club was promoted to Division 1 in 1998. However, soon after in 1999 financial problems arose and the then owners sold the club to Jefferson Lloyd International.
This was a financial disaster and in October of that year the RFU intervened to allow a consortium of Bedford business men, supported by the Town Council, to take over the club and offer shares to the members and local burghers. Several thousand shares were sold and the club is now viable.
Last season Bedford finished third in National League One, winning 23 and drawing 2 out of 30 matches. The club is managed by Mike Rayer, a former player with the club.
Bedford’s participation in the top eight playoff seems assured so there may appear to be less of an incentive for victory as there is for Moseley to avoid the relegation play offs. However this traditional fixture will undoubtedly be welcomed by both sets of supporters whatever is at stake and will as typically competitive as it will be entertaining
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