An injury crisis has forced Haverhill Rugby Club to abandon their quest to win the Suffolk Plate to concentrate of fulfilling their Eastern Counties League Two fixtures.
Haverhill were due to play at Clacton tomorrow (Saturday, February 23), but injuries to props George Foley and Paul Bergin, and scrum half and former captain Gavin Hope, coupled with fly half Jake Jeffs and inside centre Monty Beaton unavailable due to work, have meant the club would be unable to field a side.
They have thus conceded the quarter final clash to Clacton after qualifying for the competition for the second successive year with back to back wins of the Suffolk Shield.
They beat Brightlingsea 27-3 in the final in December.
With no game the following weekend due to Sawston’s exit from the league, the squad should be at full strength for its final three fixtures, starting by hosting Swaffham on March 9.
Coach Dave Halsey said: “It’s a shame because our success in the Plate is something we would have liked to continue.
“It’s important to us to fulfil our league fixtures though and we have to prioritise that.
“We hope to be back to full strength for the next game, but with this core group of players missing we’d be struggling to put out a team.”
Halsey said the club can now aim to have Haverhill II fulfil their fixtures over the next fortnight, giving players game time and blooding some youngsters, before holding a publicity drive in the summer to bolsters their ranks by capturing fresh talent.
“We will start work in the summer months to get people to join the club as there are 22,000 people in Haverhill and they can’t all play football,” added Halsey.
“There are people in the town who don’t even know that Haverhill has a rugby club, so we need a big push to try and promote ourselves.”
For all the latest sport see Thursday’s (February 28) Echo.