IRVINE UPBEAT ABOUT CHAMPIONSHIP FIXTURE LIST

With pre-season well underway and the opening 'friendlies' just over a month away, Bedford Blues Chairman Geoff Irvine is upbeat about the Greene King IPA Championship campaign and the dawning of a brand new cup competition.

Following last Friday’s league and cup fixtures announcement, the Blues Chairman has had time to reflect on what is sure to be an enthralling season for the Goldington Road club.

“Let’s be positive, this is the start of a new season and we’ve got plenty to play for. Sure they’re not perfect, but Mike and I share a similar viewpoint; the fixtures are what they are, some years are better than others, but we play the hand we are dealt and make the best of them.

“As a club we rely so heavily on our loyal supporters and we hope they will get behind us no differently this coming season. The attitude of all at the club is to put on a spectacle, both on and off the pitch, to make sure every match day is special at the home of the Blues.

"We had a wonderful season last year where we played some sublime rugby, finished third in the league and made it through to the last four of the British & Irish Cup," said Irvine who also serves as Chairman of Championship Rugby.

"Rugby is about winning games and picking up silverware and everyone is focused on doing just that in the coming season. I know some people will look at the new cup format and think 'what's the point?' but you ask the players and the coaches what the point is. Winning. That's the point. It's been a case of close, but no cigar for us on numerous occasions, but we are all determined to go one step further this year."

With the B&I Cup coming to an end in May, the club will compete in the Championship Cup which follows a league cup format and encourages local derbies where possible. All of the pool games are played in a six-week block before Christmas with the top two teams from each pool together with the two best runners up across the three pools progressing to quarter-finals which will be followed by the semi-finals and a final which will take place in May 2019.

Irvine continued: "I'm sure some people will chuckle at the 'local derbies' aspect of the cup with us heading down to Cornwall, Hartpury and London Irish, but this is an exciting draw for us. The Pirates are one of our fiercest rivals who play a great brand of rugby so it'll be great to pit ourselves against them.

“Hartpury gave us one hell of a game at their place last season and I'm sure that they will be striving to make further improvements this year and will be a real challenge. Then there's London Irish. The relegated Premiership team. What a wonderful prospect in facing them twice more in the season and showing what our boys can do!

"Having the Championship Cup over a six-week period in the autumn means that we can turn our attention fully to that competition without any league distractions. There'll be no debating whether we should put out a so-called 'strongest team' as every player who pulls on a Blues jersey wants to be in that team and I'm sure that every Blues fan will be supporting them.

"It is the intention of the club to continue to play entertaining rugby and I know Mike’s ambitions haven’t changed, we’re in it to win it.”

Don't forget that the best, and cheapest, way to enjoy all of Bedford Blues home league and cup games is to purchase a Season Ticket. Purchase before the end of June to receive the early bird discount and take advantage of a sixth successive prize freeze. Find details and read more on the Blues website.

Next Home Match

Saturday 27th October
1st XV Championship
Goldington Road
Kick-Off
3.00pm

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