Fylde RFC end year with a quiet Christmas in a happy place

“We’re where we want to be,” says Fylde RFC boss Alex Loney going into the mid-season break – though the festive season has been a quieter one on the field than the club would have hoped for.
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The derby at home to Preston Grasshoppers was frozen off, as was the previous weekend’s visit to Otley.

That meant the scheduled three-week break between fixtures now becomes one of five weeks before Fylde return to National Two North action at second-bottom Harrogate on January 7.

Captain Ben Gregory ends 2022 as Fylde's top try-scorer this season with 10Captain Ben Gregory ends 2022 as Fylde's top try-scorer this season with 10
Captain Ben Gregory ends 2022 as Fylde's top try-scorer this season with 10
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Fylde trained at all-weather facilities last week in the hope that a forecast rise in temperatures would enable the derby to be played, though the Woodlands pitch failed a Saturday morning inspection.

Joint-head coach Loney told The Gazette: “The decision was taken to leave it as long as possible and we did everything we could to get the game on, but we were beaten by the weather in the end.

“Our only focus during the week was on playing because it was due to get warmer but, if nothing else, we’ve had a good training week.”

The other six N2N fixtures suffered the same fate, meaning there’s no change to the end-of-year table as second-placed Fylde trail unbeaten leaders Sedgley Park by two points after winning 11 out of 12.

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Loney reflected: “We are very happy with the start we’ve made. If we’d been offered 53 points out of 60 from the first 12 games we’d have taken that.

“There have been a lot of really good performances and only one blip against a really good team.

“We’re in a strong position and we are where we wanted to be at the start of the season: in among the best and mixing it with the best.”

The longer than expected break won’t mean a rethink to training plans.

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Loney added: “We realise it’s Christmas and players deserve to have time with family and friends, so we won’t change too much.

“It’s an opportunity to clear up all the bumps and bangs but it’s of great importance that the lads stay active and that will be expected.”

The Otley game has already been pencilled in for February 4 and, if the Hoppers clash is rearranged for the following weekend, then Fylde would start 2023 with 10 successive Saturday games before the next scheduled break in mid-March.

That’s not what the RFU intended when the league was restructured this season, with more free weekends inserted in the interests of player welfare.

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In past seasons, clubs had been expected to play on 16 consecutive weekends up to Christmas.

Loney said: “All I know is we’ll get all the games in. We felt the first break in October was too early and now we have an enforced long break.

“We could be looking at a run of back-to-back games, though that’s something we’ve been doing for a long time before this season.

“So it’s all swings and roundabouts and the one solace is that the majority of clubs are in the same position (most are, like Fylde, two games behind).

“The whole league is playing catch-up but we’re in a strong position to look forward to the rest of the season.”