Stamford face arch rivals Oakham in table-topping Midlands 3 East (South) showdown
Long-standing friendships will be put on hold and sporting rivalries renewed on Saturday when Stamford and Oakham rugby clubs clash in a titanic Midlands 3 East (South) tussle.
Table-topping Stamford host second-placed Oakham at their Hambleton Road ground (kick-off 2.15pm) with a record crowd expected for the clash of the titans.
Town have a three-point lead at the top of the table and will be eager to gain revenge for a 19-12 defeat in the reverse fixture in October.
However, Oakham arrive on the back of six successive league wins which has catapulted them into the title race and Stamford chairman Mark Anderson is predicting a cracking contest.
He said: “We are so excited to be hosting our great local rivals Oakham this weekend.
“The clubs are both interwoven with not only geography and sporting history but also friendships.
“For 80 minutes those friendships will take second place to sporting passions and allegiances.
“The two clubs for many years have taken interest in each other’s performances and also secretly willed them to win.
“This closeness will lead a great sporting event both on and off the pitch and we are really looking forward to hosting them this Saturday. What a day it will be.”
Town are hoping to field a full-strength squad for the crunch clash after being hit by injuries in recent weeks.
Player-coach Auz Schwarz has also had his side in for extra training this week in readiness for Saturday where the club’s respective second teams will also lock horns.
Schwarz said: “It’s fantastic for both clubs to be fielding two sides and shows the development and commitment of the players at Stamford this season to be able to field two teams on a regular basis.
“Oakham at home is always a fixture that gets a real buzz around the club and gets the boys excited.
“It’s what local rugby should be all about and these are the fixtures we always look forward to in the calendar.
“This one in particular also has the added excitement of a top-of-the-table clash and that in itself brings a level of anticipation.
“We fully expect Oakham to bring their ‘A’ game this week and we’ll need to be at our best to get the result we require.
“We know a lot of their boys having played against them for many years and in some circumstances with them through school rugby.
“There are plenty of friendships shared and plenty of rivalries to settle, everything will be thrown at this one from both sides. We are wholly expecting a tough close battle and hope that it delivers to its full potential.”
Stamford also go into the clash boosted by being named Team of the Month in the Rugby World magazine having recording five successive league wins.
President Neil Jolly enthused: “We are delighted to have been awarded this accolade by Rugby World.
“It’s recognition for all the work and effort by many people and reflects very well on the senior team’s playing record.”
More by this authorJames Bedford