Cornish Pirates head coach Ian Davies hopes the recent heavy weather recedes in the coming days, so his team can enjoy a post-Christmas cracker against Plymouth Albion on Boxing Day.
In previous years, both clubs would have relished a muddy Mennaye Field, with forward-orientated teams contesting a war of attrition up front.
However, the Pirates and Albion have taken a new direction in recent times. The Cornishmen have impressed with their ability to break from any part of the pitch this season, while new Albion head coach James Shanahan is well known for his sides’ expansive play.
With the Pirates missing key forwards through injury at present, Davies is hoping for good conditions in west Cornwall for the Championship encounter on December 26. He said: “You would say it would favour us, if we had Alan Paver, Laurie McGlone and people like that playing for us. That won’t be the case this time.
“The guys who are used to playing the conditions aren’t going to be there. We are trying to play some good rugby and attack from everywhere. If it is torrential rain, I think it could spoil the game for both sides.
“The conditions down here have been pretty atrocious. I had to drive to Bristol and back this week and it was horrendous. The boys have been training in it as well.
“Hopefully, it will settle down as both sides will want to play open expansive rugby and bring the crowds in.”
The changing styles and turnover of players at both clubs means past results offer little indication of either side’s chances this season.
Indeed, scrum-half Tom Kessell could be the only former Albion player selected for the Pirates. Albion have Lloyd Fairbrother and Tom Cowan-Dickie, who both had spells in Penzance, on loan from Exeter Chiefs.
Davies said: “Previously, when Graham Dawe was coaching Plymouth and we had Kyle Marriott, he would give us insights into how Graham would go about the game. Kyle told us how Albion would prepare and what he perceived as our weaknesses.
“There has been such a huge turnover of players from both sides now, that idea has long gone. Plymouth and ourselves have changed so much recently that you can’t even look at last season for ideas about how either side are going to play.
“Alan Paver, Kyle Marriott and Aaron Carpenter are all out injured, so most guys out there will not have played for either team or know the rivalries from inside the other camp.”
Davies hopes his club’s transitional period is largely complete and he can begin consolidating his squad for next season over the coming weeks.
He said: “We’re starting to look at things but it will be the New Year before we firm anything up with anyone. The aim would be to do as well as we can this year and retain as many people as we can to push on.
“What you don’t want to happen is to end up in a continual year of transition.”