Water water everywhere – and not a drop of rugby to be had

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Competitive fixtures have been thin on the ground for Oban Lorne ladies and gents recently.

Last weekend both the mens West Division Two away fixture against Strathaven and the ladies National Plate match at Kirkcaldy fell foul of the inclement weather.

The Green Machine have been without a game now since January 29 and coach Andrew Johnston for one is questioning whether it is worth trying to play rugby in Scotland throughout the winter.

‘Having been involved with the Camanachd Association when they were discussing the change to summer shinty, I feel we need to revisit the idea of changing the Scottish rugby season to gain the benefits of playing in better conditions,’ he said.

‘The whole game in Scotland would benefit from the increased skill levels brought about by this change.

‘At present, the rugby season runs from September to May. I would like to see us change to a season that starts in March and runs to the end of October.’

Johnston shared his views after becoming increasingly frustrated with the current situation. Having had three to four weeks of weekend soakings, Glencruitten is struggling to deal with the volume of water landing on it, despite the club deciding not to train on it and working with senior groundsman Ian Hay to maintain the quality of the pitch for weekend games.

‘We can’t get on to our own pitch and even last week’s game away to Strahaven, scheduled to be played on a 4G pitch, was lost to snow,’ he added.

Along with giving matches a better chance of being played, Johnston believes summer rugby would bring ‘significant improvements’ to the game.

‘Being able to feel your hands would instantly improve your ability to handle the ball,’ he continued, arguing that players out on the wing suffer the most.

‘Trying to catch a greasy ball covered in mud when your hands are numb from the cold isn’t ideal.

‘The only people that enjoy these games are the forwards who get plenty practise at scrummaging and keep warm.’

Johnston also believes summer rugby would lead to a much more social event on the touchlines with more people likely to come out to support their team and more events organised as there would be less likelihood of games being cancelled.

‘I know some people will say it rains in the summer too and we can’t get away from that, but it is not the same as the horrendous conditions of late,’ he added.

‘I know any change in the rugby season would bring challenges to some of the big city teams who share pitches with cricket and athletics clubs but if I was to do what was best for the sport, it would definitely be playing through the summer.’

This weekend, weather permitting, Oban Lorne 1st XV are due to host title challengers Cumnock and having won the reverse fixture in January they are are confident of another good performance.

Oban Lorne Ladies, meanwhile, are trying to get their National Plate group completed. So far the Green Army have only played one of their four fixtures and on Sunday are due to play host to Annan at Glencruitten.