Dismay over promotion is mixed with realism at Sandal

SANDAL RUFC first-team manager Richard Bedford has expressed his bitter disappointment after his side were denied promotion to National Two North following the application of the RFU’s ‘best playing record’ to leagues across the country last week.

HOT STREAK: Action from Sandal RUFC v Morpeth in March this year. Picture by Allan McKenzie/YWNG

The Wakefield club sat second in the North Premier standings when all matches were suspended by the coronavirus outbreak.

But the RFU’s final placings saw Sandal drop to fourth, despite only losing one of their last 14 games – against Harrogate, the side that replaced them in second.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Bedford’s side had played one more game than their North Yorkshire rivals but were set to face four of the bottom seven clubs, including rock-bottom Ilkley, in their final matches of the campaign.

AS YOU WERE: Action from Sandal v Kirkby Lonsdale in September last year. Picture by Allan McKenzie/YWNG

“We were all pretty disappointed because we felt that the games we had to come were all winnable with bonus points,” said Bedford.

“With Blaydon, who have finished top, they had two really difficult games – one away at Macclesfield and one at Harrogate.

“We felt like they were going to slip up and we believed we were going to win all the games that were left to come. So we were pretty disappointed in that respect.”

Sandal finished sixth in the North Premier last term, 29 points off second place, and Bedford hailed the progress made by his side this campaign.

He added: “We are extremely proud of what all the lads have done and how we have progressed this season.

“From a first-team perspective, we lost some early games against the top sides but after Christmas we really turned it around.

“We beat Billingham, Macclesfield and Blaydon away who were all sitting top of the league at the time we played them. We were really pleased with how we progressed and how we were building up towards the end of the season.”

Bedford had no issue with the decision to bring the leagues to an early end and admitted that producing a fair outcome in the North Premier was always going to prove a challenge.

He said: “They had to make a decision. I think our league was probably the hardest league to call out of them all. A lot of other leagues had teams top by quite a few points but ours was so tight that it is just unfortunate that we have had to have that result.

“To end up going from second to fourth; I honestly feel we could have finished second and got a play-off spot. But I don’t think it was the wrong decision to call it off now. We are bitterly disappointment but something had to be done.”