CLECKHEATON RUFC have been forced to withdraw from the Yorkshire Cup as their injury-hit side look to focus on the battle against relegation.
They were due to face Wharfedale tomorrow (Saturday), but the club have decided to concede the tie and their fit players will train this weekend instead.
A sixth consecutive defeat last weekend, at home to York, has left them just two points clear of the North One East relegation zone with six matches remaining.
With injuries hitting hard, the team will focus their resources on the fight to avoid the drop.
Influential scrum-half Jack Bickerdike is out of action with a cracked rib, while another couple of injuries were picked up in the defeat to York.
They add to a crowded treatment room, which includes Matt Deighton who has been out with a shoulder problem since before Christmas, and Josh Clough who is sidelined with a lower leg injury.
Hooker Tim Mobbs this week received confirmation from a consultant that the neck injury he picked up in November is effectively career-ending.
Fellow hooker James Crowther is unavailable for the remainder of the season, as is Josh Malkinson.
Chairman Neil Gillan says that the injury crisis is not fully to blame for recent results, but that the decision to withdraw from the Yorkshire Cup had to be taken to focus on the relegation fight ahead.
“We can’t really blame injuries for losses over the last five weeks,” he said. “Whilst we have had players missing, this is just part of rugby.
“In most of the games we could have won, if ball had stuck in hand and correct options had been taken.
“We are concerned about the remainder of the season. We are just two points clear of the drop zone at present with six games to go. We need to concentrate on securing league points and so with regret, we have decided to withdraw from the cup.
“As well as having to risk players carrying knocks this weekend, if we won the game, we would have to play at least one more round during the remainder of season, alongside our preparation for these crunch league games.”