Bedford plots promotion with Sandal

Joe Bedford playing for Sandal this season. (W571B340)
Joe Bedford playing for Sandal this season. (W571B340)
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A former Premiership scrum-half is hoping to help Sandal gain promotion on Saturday as the Wakefield club face a winner-takes-all shootout at Sale.

Sandal have lost one game in National Three North since the opening day of the season when they were beaten at home by Sale, who now trail the leaders by a point.

Victory would send Sandal into National Two North, playing alongside county rivals like Otley, Huddersfield, Harrogate and Hull.

Joe Bedford, the former Leeds, Rotherham, Doncaster and Newport-Gwent Dragons scrum-half, is a player-coach at Sandal.

“The club has come a long way since their days in Yorkshire One,” he said.

“Sale are a very ambitious club, they play at the old home of Sale Sharks and have ambitions on reaching National One.

“We, by contrast, are amateurs and have been knocking at the promotion door for a couple of years.

“We’ve had a terrific season and it’s a great bunch of lads who have done exceptionally well in a semi-pro league.”

Bedford, 31, quit professional rugby two years ago after a loan spell with Doncaster from the Dragons.

He took a teaching job at Bronte House School in Apperley Bridge and is now head of games at the junior school.

He combines that with one coaching session a week with the school’s first team, and his coaching and playing responsibilities at Sandal.

“I wasn’t planning on playing again but I got back into it at Sandal, and after a handful of games before last Christmas, I’ve been a near ever-present for the last 18 months,” added Bedford, who also toured Georgia with the England Counties team last summer and captained the Yorkshire team.

“Putting an England shirt at the age of 31 was a nice feeling, I thought I’d lost that chance.

“And I’m really enjoying the teaching aspect of it all as well. It’s nice to give something back.”