Some fallen giants of Cumbrian rugby union are set to kick off the new League season tomorrow.
The Cumbria section of the RFU’s Northern Division is being contested by nine clubs, several with proud histories in the county.
Particularly keen to climb the League ladder are Wigton and Workington who have won the County Cup 12 times each, and at various times in their history have been the dominant force in Cumberland/Cumbria.
Whitehaven, who were the second-ever winners of the County Cup in 1884 and Egremont, who won it five times in 12 seasons over the 50s and 60s, have had their moments.
Unfortunately Silloth, who in the 1920’s produced one of the county’s greatest-ever rugby players in Jim Brough and won the competition twice in the 1930s, have had to pull out.
The club stopped playing competitive rugby a few years ago but were revived and are hoping that they will be back again when they recruit more players.
John Rogers, the Cumbria One secretary said: “It is unfortunate but COVID seems to have affected some clubs more than others.
“In our League Silloth and Windermere have been hit, although Windermere have decided to play in our Cumbria 2 Shield League.”
Wigton, Workington and Egremont are likely to be the main contenders for the title although Upper Eden might have something to say about that.
Top match on opening day should be Upper Eden v Workington.
Millom make the long trek to Creighton; Egremont visit Hawcoat Park and Whitehaven have a visit from Furness.
Wigton are the spare team this week as they should have played Silloth.
The Cumbria Two Shield League has 12 competing clubs, and the prospect of Silloth picking up odd games with any spare teams as they reorganise.
The competition has been boosted by the inclusion of second teams from Keswick and Penrith.
In recent years they have preferred to play their rugby in Lancashire but new re-organisation by the RFU is on the horizon and the switch back to Cumbria appears a sensible move.
Keswick were actually back in action in the first Shield League game played last Friday when they beat Cockermouth 35-7.
Cumbria 2 Shield League secretary John Crichton said: “Weare really pleased to have a dozen teams competing this season.
“Our aim has been to make sure 18 players at all our clubs outside first XVs had the chance of a game of rugby every weekend.
“The way Lancashire clubs are reluctant to travel to Cumbria for League games suggests that we have to develop a strong competition for teams within the county.
“We had strong social rugby in Cumbria before the advent of the Leagues in their various forms and it looks as though we might be heading back into that era.”
It was hoped that Moresby would be able to resume this season, but they have asked more time to get themselves fully up to speed.
However late on Creighton offered to take their place in the fixture list with a second team.
“Apparently Creighton have players coming out of their ears at the minute which is great to hear,” said Crichton.
Creighton 2nds will make their bow tomorrow afternoon as a curtain raiser against Upper Eden, before the senior game of Creighton v Millom.
Carlisle Crusaders are going to take on Cockermouth tonight under the Warwick Road floodlights.
Keswick, fresh from their win at Cockermouth, host Aspatria Eagles tomorrow while Windermere make their bow at this level at home to Penrith.
St Benedict’s Ravens are at home to Wigton.