Featherstone ‘victims of own success’ with controversial new date for Swinton home match

Davide Longo: "It is harsh to say the least."
Davide Longo: "It is harsh to say the least."

FEATHERSTONE’S re-arranged Kingstone Press Championship fixture against Swinton Lions will be played at the LD Nutrition Stadium on Wednesday, June 21 (8pm).

The game was originally scheduled for Sunday, June 18, but a new date was needed because Rovers visit Leeds Rhinos in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup quarterfinals on Friday, June 16.

Following a dispute and a subsequent appeal process involving both Featherstone and Swinton, a sub-committee of the Rugby Football League’s board has ruled - “taking into account all the relevant factors” - the game must take place on June 21 which is shortly before Rovers visit London Broncos in a crucial top-four clash.

Rovers general manager Davide Longo has expressed his frustration regarding the decision.

“We always knew qualifying into the competition’s last eight would result in some form of fixture change but, as a club, we feel we have become a victim of our own success here,” he said.

“There is no overreaction here from us. It is harsh to say the least. We are a part-time club and now have to play three games in 10 days - with very little recovery or training time possible in between.

“We will play Leeds on Friday evening and then Swinton will visit us on Wednesday, before the boys head to the capital just three days later.

“Given what is at stake in 2017 and where we currently sit on the league ladder, the games against Swinton and London are must wins in our view.

“We wanted to go to Headingley, in front of the Sky Sports cameras, and put on a show. At full strength, we have the ability to push Leeds all the way.

“Our task has now undoubtedly been made more challenging as squad rotation may well have to be considered ahead of what could prove a pivotal week for the club - on all fronts, something the broadcasters will be disappointed to hear.

“There is little we can do from here other than play with the hand we have been dealt. We offered three different fixtures dates for Swinton to consider and they were not willing to agree on one of them.

“This surely acts as a deterrent going forward for ambitious Championship clubs, who wish to challenge the so-called ‘big boys’ of rugby league.

“I am not sure this situation aids the Challenge Cup’s standing within the sport either, which is massively disappointing for spectators, sponsors, players and administrators.”