The new rugby season kicked off on Saturday for both the Sheffield Tigers and Sheffield RUFC; the two teams found themselves playing in different divisions to last season, but for separate reasons.
After topping the table all season and eventually winning by a 16 point margin, the Tigers were promoted to the National League Two North division. The Tigers debuted in their new division with a 22-10 home defeat to Luctonians; a team that finished sixth in the same division last season.
The Tigers play their next league match against a fellow recently promoted side, Scunthorpe, who clinched victory via points difference on the final day of the season. Both sides will want maximum points from the match as the two new teams will be fighting to stay in the league, and dropping points early in the season could find them in a relegation battle.
Sheffield RUFC also find themselves playing in a new league after a reshuffle of the North and Midlands divisions. RUFC were transferred to the National League Three Midlands division and travelled to Bridgnorth for their first match of the season. In a close game, RUFC eventually won 14-6.
Sheffield’s director of rugby Jason Soden said: “Being in the new league is certainly a change. The rugby is at a similar standard as we are still in National Three, but we are facing a brand new set of teams whereas before we had played the same ones for almost 20 years.
“It is a challenge because we don’t know the teams we are facing, we do not know how they are going to play but at the same time, they don’t know that about us either.
“We won on Saturday which was a very positive start. Bridgnorth were a good side, very well organised and good at the break-downs. We did not start particularly well but we got going in the second half and got on top of them, coming away with the win.”
Sheffield travel to Coventry to face Broadstreet in their next match. “Broadstreet won last week and recently came down from the National Two Division,” Soden added.
“They are a very good side, a well drilled side with some exceptional backs. We have some things we have to work on after last week, we started off slow against Bridgnorth and we’ll aim to start playing from the first minute, instead of the 41st minute this time.
“Broadstreet will be difficult to play against but we are looking forward to it.”