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Highland Rugby Club head coach Dave Carson confirms postponement of scheduled National One match against Boroughmuir and Caledonia North Three match against Fraserburgh

By Andrew Henderson

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Highland Rugby Club head coach Dave Carson has confirmed two of the club's scheduled matches this weekend are off – with a third potentially about to follow.

The first team were due to host Boroughmuir in the first National One game of the new year, but Carson received word last night that the Edinburgh outfit would not be making the journey to Inverness.

Similarly, Fraserburgh confirmed they would not make the trip to face Highland's third XV in Caley North Four.

The news follows an announcement from Scottish Rugby that clubs would be allowed to postpone this weekend's fixtures without penalty because of the record levels of Covid-19 around the country right now.

At training last night, there was plenty of discussion over what Highland should do, but as it turned out other clubs made the decision for them.

"It has been taken out of our hands, because Boroughmuir let us know last night that they won't be travelling," Carson explained.

"Also, as soon as the statement from Scottish Rugby came out Fraserburgh let us know they wouldn't be playing against our thirds either.

Highland RFC head coach Dave Carson has confirmed that two of this weekend's fixtures are off. Picture: Gary Anthony
Highland RFC head coach Dave Carson has confirmed that two of this weekend's fixtures are off. Picture: Gary Anthony

"We had a lot of discussions with the senior players and the coaches, and there are a lot of people isolating. There are a lot of people who have it in Inverness, I think we have nine guys who are isolating or have got symptoms, so our thought was not to risk it.

"We had a home game, so it was slightly easier for us, but the thought of sitting on a bus for seven or eight hours wasn't sitting right with people – quite rightly.

"It wasn't even about catching Covid, it was the hassle of having to isolate. We've got a few boys who are self-employed, so we have to think about their livelihoods as well and if they've got to isolate, it's not easy."

Highland's other team, the Raptors in Caley North Two, are supposed to face Moray this Saturday but although no decision has officially been confirmed by either side, Carson expects that one to drop off the calendar too.

"I don't know what's happening with that game at the moment, but I would imagine that will be off," he reasoned.

"We'll just wait and see what they come with. It's everywhere just now, so we feel it's just not worth the hassle for players.

"It's not fair on them. It's their game, it's them who would get exposed, not so much the coaches and the committee and the supporters, it's the players.

"I can imagine the 2nds being off. They talked about how they would open the club – they would have to restrict numbers in there because you'd have 50-odd players coming up after a game. It gets pretty complicated, you would have to sit in households of three, so it's a minefield of regulation to get through.

"My heart's telling me that by tonight either we'll pull it, Moray will pull it or we'll both decide it's not worth it right now."

There may well be some concern throughout the club pyramid that postponing games may lead to more severe call offs in the coming weeks, with the 18 months without rugby undoubtedly still fresh in their minds.

Carson, though, would rather be cautious and protect everyone involved than take any unnecessary risks.

"We talked about it between Christmas and New Year, myself and Brian (Bell, Highland's director of rugby), and there were a few boys missing because they were isolating over Christmas," Carson said.

"We're probably looking at a New Year peak after all the gatherings there was.

"I think it would be sensible to postpone next week as well, and see if this peak starts going down the way again."

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