Preston Grasshoppers relegation could be rubberstamped today after disappointing season
Relegation for Preston Grasshoppers appears likely to be ratified this evening after what has been a disappointing season.
Hoppers sit second from bottom in the National League North Two and are all but down – just one point away from being relegated with five games left. However, the RFU has declared the season is over due to coronanvirus and confusion did reign over what will happen going forward.
The governing body met this week and their subsequent statement said: “It was agreed that final standings for the Greene King IPA Championship and men’s and women’s community game would be calculated on a best playing record formula maintaining promotion and relegation for those leagues.”
After such a fine first season back at this level the year before when Paul Arnold’s men finished seventh, hopes were high on another successful campaign but it has not worked out that way.
Director of rugby Gareth Dyer admitted there was a multitude of reasons why things have fallen flat at Lightfoot Green this season.
“The big problem we have had this year is that we have had an unprecedented injury list,” said Dyer.
“At points in the autumn, we were missing around 60% of our playing squad through injury. I have never seen an injury list like it to be fair.
“At one point, we virtually had no props so we had to bring guys in on loan and then they got injured or because of issues at the club they came from, they had to go back.
“Realistically that impacted on us. We could not get any momentum going – I don’t think we were able to pick the same matchday 20 all year.
“I think off the field, we had a few issues – the balance of the coaching set-up was not quite right.
“That’s something we have moved to address by signing Byron McGuigan, who plays for Sale and Scotland, as assistant coach for next year.
“I think injuries, loss of form and confidence was a key factor – and basically everything which could go wrong, probably did on the pitch.
“We lost a few big games late on and big calls went against us. The other thing is, the team which finished bottom, Scunthorpe, did not win a game all season.
“They were the whipping boys and our fixtures basically followed theirs. So whoever played them the week before, played us the following week full of form and confidence after giving Scunthorpe a hammering.”