Inverness Craig Dunain excited for challenges old and new ahead of 2020/21 club rugby season
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Inverness Craig Dunain team manager Graeme Hislop is looking forward to the challenge of taking on some new faces next season.
For the High School-based side, the 2020/21 campaign will not look like anything they have been used to in recent memory, as they are part of a 14-team division with everyone playing each other once, home or away.
There are some new sides that have entered the Caledonia North leagues, so Craig Dunain will be thrown even further into the unknown at times.
Some are second or third teams from clubs higher up in the Scottish Rugby pyramid – like Caithness and Highland – while others are entirely new clubs to the league like Turriff and Aberdeen Taexali.
Regardless of Hislop’s familiarity with those sides though, he is looking forward to the challenge of a new campaign.
“I’m looking forward to the season, there will be some interesting games,” he said.
“We have played Caithness 2nds in friendlies, so it’s good to see them coming up. Highland 3rds is probably the fixture that everybody was waiting to see.
“That will be a very, very big day and a big fixture.
“It’s good to see Highland, I understand that they want to achieve the gold level from the SRU, so it’s great to see them coming in and I’m sure there will be plenty of banter between now and February between both teams.
“Turriff have also joined, but I don’t know much about them.
“It could be that some of the guys from Banff – who haven’t come back into the league this year – have gone there instead.
“There are some interesting games, some teams we haven’t played, some we have played friendlies against, and then some old foes that we have had many a good skirmish with.
“We’re just looking forward to getting back on the pitch.”
Inverness Craig Dunain Women are also due to get their season up and running on Saturday, October 31 in a format that will feel like the norm for them.
Women’s club rugby is structured very differently to the men’s game in the Caledonia region anyway, so while the idea of pools and play-offs might take some getting used to for men’s sides, it will be like water off a duck’s back to Craig Dunain.
Eight teams in the north region were separated into two pools, with ICD being joined by Stornoway, Fraserburgh and Huntly in Pool Two.
Pool One is made up of Shetland, Orkney, Aberdeenshire and Peterhead, with the top two sides in each group progressing to an end-of-season play-off.
Normally, Craig Dunain follow that format with the play-off winners then taking on the champions from other regions for a chance of promotion.
That will not be the case this year as promotion and relegation has been abandoned, the focus instead on merely getting games in for players all across the country.
Craig Dunain are scheduled to be at home for their first match of the new season against Stornoway, with the first away trip seeing them travel to Fraserburgh.