Diss forgo final but will host president’s exhibition
Diss Rugby Club have handed the Woodforde’s Norfolk Cup to arch rivals North Walsham ahead of their scheduled final — due to not being able to agree a suitable date.
The traditional end-of-season showpiece had been scheduled to take place last Sunday, but Diss felt it was unreasonable to expect them to play 24 hours after their play-off with Chiswick, which they heartbreakingly lost 16-13.
An alternative was put forward by Norfolk RFU of this Sunday, but 13 of Diss’ players were already booked on a stag do in Scotland, leaving club officials to agree to forgo it as a competitive final.
It has left Diss club president Duncan West to organise a President’s XV, made up of Diss players past and present and several Eastern Counties guest players, to take on North Walsham at Mackenders tomorrow (3pm).
The latter are then set to be presented with the trophy afterwards by Norfolk RFU president Jerry Stone.
“Norfolk RFU were adamant we had to play it either the day after the play-off last week, which was ridiculous, or this Sunday, when we could not field a proper side to contest it,” said West.
“We suggested a mid-week game which they would not sanction but as a compromise to the sponsors Woodforde’s Brewery, we are doing this game Saturday.
“We felt it was our duty to have a game and there will be a good mix of guest players.”
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He added: “We are hoping for a good crowd on Saturday to see some players who they would not normally see.”
A few youth players are expected to be included in the side which will be run by backs coach Dave Smith.
Diss had won at Swaffham (97-10) and Norwich (24-20) to book their place in the county cup final.
Meanwhile, first-team captain Fraser Hall has stressed the importance of going all out to win the league next season to avoid the necessity for another play-off, following the heartbreak of Saturday’s 16-13 defeat.
“To get all of those wins, all of those performances and then come up short on the last day is bitterly disappointing, of course,” he said.
“But as the coaches have said, that has to now set the tone for what we do over the summer and how we approach next year.
“We need to realise that getting that first place and guaranteeing it (promotion) means we don’t have to go through this situation.
“Throwing away a few early games at the beginning of the season meant we were having to go through this play-off and it was a tough day.”
The flanker felt his side got caught out trying to play in the wrong areas.
“We were trying to move the ball around in our own 22 and we need to be playing in the opposition’s half. That is the easiest place to score from,” he said.
“I think our game management was a bit naïve at times.
“It was always going to be a close game though.
“You looked at the match-up at the beginning and we had scored the same number of points, same sort of number of tries and same position in the league.
“I think if we had just managed to nudge ourselves in front I thought we might have been able to see it out, but in the end they did it back to us.”
Of the late drama, he added: “It was great relief when Matt Richards scored in the corner and we felt we had tied the game up with three or four minutes to go and we just had to play sensible rugby, and we just didn’t do that.”