Two Whitebank Derbies in first month

Date published: Monday, November 26, 2012
OLDHAM RL Club start their 2013 campaign under new coach Scott Naylor with a Northern Rail Cup clash against North Wales Crusaders at Wrexham on Sunday, March 3.
The first home game is on Sunday, March 10 in the same competition against derby rivals Rochdale Hornets, who also come to Whitebank to kick off the Championship One season on Good Friday, March 29 (3pm).
With two derby clashes at Whitebank in the first month of the new season, Naylor will be looking for a flying start to his first head coach’s appointment.
New club Oxford are not competing in a restructured Northern Rail Cup in which the remaining eight Championship One clubs are split into two groups of four as follows:
Northern: Oldham, Gateshead Thunder, Rochdale Hornets, North Wales Crusaders.
Southern: London Skolars, Gloucester, Hemel Stags, South Wales Scorpions.
Each team plays the others in its own group plus one from the other group, providing the first four games of the season, two at home, two away.
The cross-group games, on Sunday, March 24, are South Wales v Oldham, Gateshead v Gloucester, Hemel v North Wales, Rochdale v London.
The two teams finishing top of their respective groups progress to join the 14 Championship clubs in the knock-out stages later in the season.
Oxford, coached by former Oldham boss Tony Benson, will be at Whitebank in the second home league game on Sunday, April 28 while fellow newcomers Hemel Stags and Gloucester will be here respectively on Sundays, June 23 and August 11.
The final league game of the regular season at Rochdale will be on Thursday, August 15 (7.30pm) and televised live by Premier Sports.
Between the beginning of March and mid-August there are five blank weekends, but the schedules released so far by the RFL do not include dates for the knock-out stages of the Northern Rail Cup (other than the final on Sunday, July 21) or the Carnegie Challenge Cup rounds.
RFL official Ralph Rimmer said: “The new Championship One clubs offer the sport a unique opportunity to take games into areas where we haven’t been before.
“It’s an exciting move and one which has the potential to attract new fans, players and volunteers.
“With new clubs, new players and new-look competitions this is going to be the most exciting and most important season of Championships rugby there has ever been.
“The enthusiasm with which all three new clubs have entered the professional ranks for the first time is a major boost to Championship One, which is pushing the sport’s geographical boundaries.”
(Go to ‘The Match’ link and click on ‘first-team fixtures’ for the full 2013 fixture list)