FOR the first time in 34 seasons, Rugby Union will begin a Bathurst District Cricket Association first grade campaign carrying the mantle of defending premiers.
Being crowned victors after last season’s rain affected grand final against St Pat’s Old Boys was drawn – Rugby getting the nod thanks to being the first to qualify for the decider – ended a title drought dating back to 1984-85.
Naturally being premiers brings with it new pressures, but Rugby captain Sam Macpherson says the feeling is good ahead of the 2018-19 campaign.
“I think there’s a little bit of pressure off, but it’s just that we don’t have that hoodoo hanging over our head. It’s quite a nice feeling to be honest,” he said.
READ MORE: Drought is over for Rugby Union
READ ALSO: ORC withdraws from first grade
From last season’s premiership winning side only two players will not return for this summer. Star all-rounder Ryan Peacock is concentrating on furthering his NSW Premier Cricket career, while Ben Hurford has retired.
However, Brad Glasson and Pirenau Nirmalendran have joined Rugby and will add to its batting depth.
Former Blayney player Nirmalendran returns to the BDCA after spending last season with Lane Cove Cricket Club, while Glasson has made the move from ORC.
This Saturday Rugby will not be at full strength, but players who have been training well in the pre-season will get their chance.
It will be a good test as well given the Bulldogs will face the Saints – the side they denied on grand final day – first up in a one-day contest at Scots.
Keep up to date with the latest sports news by clicking here
“There are a lot of players from the grand final team who’ll be playing this weekend then a few little extras, a few youngsters coming through and a few new players to the club,” Macpherson said.
“I’d say they are going to be pretty strong this weekend and I dare say, even though we’re premiers, we’d be going in as underdogs. I’d say Pat’s will be the team to beat this season.
“[But] Once we have our full side back we’ll be looking just as good as the grand final team we had last season.”
One thing Macpherson is looking to improve on in 2018-19 is Rugby’s one-day form. While wash-outs did prevent teams from getting regular games, Rugby posted just one win before the two-dayers last season.
“We did start well last season, we haven’t started well the last two seasons, but yet we’ve made the grand final both years,” he said.
“It would be nice to get a good start for once to take some pressure off at the back end of the season. I’d say it’s probably going to be pretty tight throughout the whole season.”