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Sudbury head coach Neil Dachtler gearing up for October and not September start after RFU release fixture list

Sudbury are set to open the new London 1N rugby season with a trip to Shelford, which the RFU has provisionally pencilled in for September 5, writes Ken Watkins.

But it is a date which Blues head coach Neil Dachtler feels is more than a little optimistic.

The RFU has indicated that a restart to a full season of fixtures will have to take place between September 5 and October 10.

Sudbury v Ruislip - Sudbury coach, Neil Dachtler.Pic - Richard Marsham. (38823560)
Sudbury v Ruislip - Sudbury coach, Neil Dachtler.Pic - Richard Marsham. (38823560)

Dachtler is anticipating the later date with the squad not set to return to pre-season training until next Tuesday.

“We know it’s not going to happen in September,” he said. “We are starting our training a month behind what we would do normally because we feel we won’t be playing until October. We don’t want to burn out and over-train for no end.

“All of us are realistic about it, and hopefully we can get something going soon. But we know they (London Leagues) are going to give us four weeks’ notice of when the season will actually start.

“We’ve got to have at least four weeks of contact training and warm-up matches; we can’t just go straight in to playing full contact rugby.”

Colchester, who narrowly missed out on promotion for the second season running and released former Sudbury coach Ben Scully in the summer, will be the first visitors to Whittome Field, provisionally on September 12.

Dachtler is looking forward to the derby game.

“It will be interesting. Let’s hope we can have a repeat performance of last season, he said, with Sudbury having won 30-3 in the last match before Christmas,” he said.

“We won’t take anything lightly. And we are not going to start slowly.

“Every game to us is a must-win because we don’t know how long it is going to go on for. If the league gets cut short again we don’t want to be saying ‘if only’.

“We want to finish as high up the league as we possibly can. We believe we deserve a top three place.”

London 1 North has been divided into two groups of seven teams. As well as Colchester and Shelford, Sudbury’s group includes Brentwood, Norwich, Southend Saxons and Thurrock.

Sudbury will play the other teams in the group home and away in the first half of the season.

In the second half Sudbury face home and away matches against Amersham & Chiltern, Belsize Park, Chingford, Eton Manor, Harpenden, Leighton Buzzard and Old Haberdashers. Norwich, Thurrock, Belsize Park and Leighton Buzzard are new opponents for the 2020/21 season.

If the October 10 deadline is missed, the next window set by the RFU runs until November 28, with Sudbury then playing teams in their group home and away, but teams in the other group either home or away.

If the November 28 deadline is missed, a start has to be made by February 6. In that scenario Sudbury would only play teams in their group home and away.