It all kicks off with the BroncosDate published: Monday, October 19, 2015
PROMOTED Oldham begin life in the Kingstone Press Championship 2016 with a tasty home game against London Broncos, full-time professionals who were in Super League as recently as 2014.
Though they have still to announce a home venue — Whitebank doesn’t meet the RFL’s minimum standards for the sport’s second tier — chairman Chris Hamilton has confirmed that he is due to talk to Oldham Athletic chief Simon Corney about the possible use of SportsDirect.com Park.
The season starts on Sunday, February 7 and in the first month Roughyeds face Broncos and Dewsbury Rams at home and Leigh Centurions and Featherstone Rovers away.
In their third home game, Scott Naylor’s men go head to head with the club at which Naylor won nearly every medal in rugby league as a tough-as-teak centre, Bradford Bulls.
In three League One seasons under Naylor’s command, Roughyeds have won 46 and drawn two of their 58 regular league games, losing only three at Whitebank and stringing together 14 wins in a row to clinch promotion.
“You wouldn’t believe how much we are looking forward to playing in the Championship, but it’s going to be a whole new ball game from anything we’ve experienced before,” said club captain Lewis Palfrey,
“We’re going to need a different mindset and a different mental approach and our goals and targets will need to be realistic.”
A double-header over Easter sees Roughyeds play Halifax on Good Friday at home and Swinton Lions on Easter Monday at Sedgley Park.
The two newly-promoted clubs, Oldham and Swinton, will meet three times in the regular season — home and away and also as part of the Summer Bash at Blackpool in which each Championship side will play an extra game over the Bank Holiday weekend of May 28 and 29.
Oldham will play Swinton on the Sunday, kicking off at 3pm.
The Summer Bash ‘extra’ provides each of the 12 teams with 23 games in the regular season, after which Super League and Championship will be split into three groups — the Super 8s — to determine the biggest issues of the year; promotion, relegation and Grand Final glory.
Sky Sports will screen selected Championship matches, while all six Summer Bash games will be available to watch across Sky Sports platforms.
Championship clubs are not involved in the iPro Sport Cup, but they play 30 league games (23 in the regular season plus seven more in the Super 8s) as well as competing in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup, entering in round four over the weekend of March 18 to 20.
Oldham will play a minimum of 31 games — more than in any of the last seven seasons — plus more still if they proceed beyond round four in the Challenge Cup.
Interestingly, they play four away games in a row in May and June plus the Summer Bash fixture at Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road Stadium, which means they won’t be on home soil — wherever that is — from May 15 to June 26.
Six weeks on the road at that time of year is normal for some ground-share clubs because it gives the pitch a rest at the height of the growing season.