Postponing Harrogate RUFC's derby clash with Wharfedale RUFC was 'definitely the right call'

Dave Doherty insists that the decision to postpone Harrogate RUFC’s National Two North derby clash with Wharfedale was the “definitely the right call.”

Wednesday, 22nd December 2021, 9:06 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd December 2021, 9:08 pm
Harrogate RUFC director of rugby Dave Doherty. Picture: Caught Light Photography

Saturday’s eagerly-anticipated showdown between the North Yorkshire rivals at Threshfield was called off due to Covid-19 concerns.

One of ‘Gate’s players tested positive for coronavirus late last week and when the club informed National League Rugby of this development, they opted against letting the fixture go ahead.

“One of our boys tested positive last week and he had travelled in the car to training with a few of our other players, so obviously there was an issue there,” Doherty explained.

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“We informed the National League doctor and he adjudicates on such matters. The league have said that there are plenty of blank weekends in the New Year so there’s no pressure to play games if clubs have any concerns.

“So it was their decision to postpone Saturday and although everyone here was desperate to play a big derby game, I think it was definitely the right call.

“The most important thing is making sure that everyone stays safe.”

While transmission between the two sets of players was naturally a concern, Doherty said that consideration was only part of the potential issue that going ahead with the fixture could have caused.

“When you’ve got the boys in close contact during a game, that’s one thing, but for a big local derby like Wharfedale versus Harrogate, we could have been looking at a crowd of between 1,500 and 2,000 people,” he added.

“With the Omicron variant spreading like it is at the moment, bringing that number of people together in a fairly confined space probably wouldn’t have been a very good idea.

“People’s welfare has to come first and we wouldn’t want a rugby match to be impacting negatively on people from local communities and be responsible for making them ill.”

On the field, injury-ravaged Harrogate have struggled this season and currently sit bottom of the National Two North table with just two wins from 13 attempts.

They did however have a number of players back available for selection at Wharfedale and were for once heading into the match in decent shape.

“Like I say, we were desperate to play,” Doherty said.

“We had a number of boys back and would have been able to put out a pretty strong squad. There were a few lads who were touch-and-go for our game with Rotherham the week before, so we left them out to make sure that they were okay for this one.

"So it's really frustrating that the game ended up being called off, but it’s just one of those things. It's a situation that was beyond our control."