Aberdeen Grammar head coach Ali O’Connor is still hopeful of the new rugby season starting on schedule.
Fixtures were released last week for the amended season to start on October 31, which will see clubs compete in two tournaments – a regional and national one – with end-of-season play-offs.
Grammar are due to start with a home game against Dundee and also face Highland and Stirling County. They will play Dundee and Stirling County twice at Rubislaw and once away, with two trips to Inverness to face Highland.
Fresh restrictions imposed yesterday, to combat the second wave of Covid-19 cases, have cast doubt on many sports being able to start up again, with O’Connor preparing as if the season will start as planned.
He said: “I don’t really know what to expect. We will prepare ready for the start. We could be in lockdown or different areas could be in lockdown. It’s going to be a case of getting through it and get some momentum going, if things are going to be a bit staggered.
“There’s a trophy to play for and whether we get through and get that completed is anyone’s guess.
“There were no great surprises (with the regional fixtures). The first part of the season is going to bring its own challenges; they will be looking to take us on as the higher-placed side and will see it as an opportunity to turn us over. But I’m happy enough with the format.”
There was no specific reference made to outdoor sports during the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement yesterday, which will give some hope to clubs the 2020-21 season can begin on time.
Once the regionalised pools have been completed by the end of January, Grammar will switch to a five-team national conference. They will play GHA and Marr at home, with away games against Glasgow Hawks and Edinburgh Accies. The winners of the four regional and four national pools will advance to the play-offs.
O’Connor has his squad in shape for the new campaign, with the additions of Ben Renton, Corey Buchan, Mark New, Matthew Emmison and Evan Fairweather strengthening his options.
He added: “I think Evan has been in Aberdeen for the last couple of years, but wanted to focus on his studies. He’s come along (to training) and looks keen and sharp.
“At the moment we’ve got about 11 unavailable due to holidays and work and, if you offered me a squad of about 50 players in any other season, I would have bitten your hand off.”
Grammar finished last season in fifth place in the Premiership, when the pandemic arose, and Scottish Rugby opted to null and void the seasons in national and regional leagues across Scotland.