Traditional Boxing Day derby at Mill Road

Joseph Bulmer

BARNSTAPLE are eagerly looking forward to entertaining Bideford on Boxing Day (2.30pm) in the traditional festive North Devon derby.

The annual meeting between the two great rivals failed to happen last season due to a frozen pitch, although the two clubs did manage a pre-season replay at Bideford.

Kevin Squire, Barum’s director of rugby, said there was something special about the Boxing Day fixture for players and spectators alike.

“We may be two divisions above Bideford these days, but it is one of those games when the form book goes out of the window,” he said.“Bideford will raise their game 20 per cent against us and if we want to win we have to be at our best.It is a tight-knit rugby community around here, where everyone knows each other, and that motivates players from both sides to give it their best. The spectators love it because there is no pressure on the teams for league and cup points, so they can play attractive rugby, which is exciting to watch. It will be out best home gate of the season, that’s for sure.”

The sentiments were echoed by Bideford’s forward coach Kevin Booth. He said: “This is an opportunity for Bideford to play against a higher standard of team than usual.The result is not important, but the performance is. Barnstaple are expected to win and win well.The pressure is off us, it is a chance to have some fun and give it a good go. Having said that, we will go with the mentality that we do for every game, to win.”

Bideford will relish running into Harry Elliot, who left Bideford for Barnstaple this season, and former Bideford player Neil Giddy.

Bideford Quins will be entertaining Barnstaple and go into the game sitting top of their Merit Table and feel they have a great opportunity to beat Barnstaple.