Short trip to Blackburn for 1st XV

Date: 19 October 2021

Blackburn vs. Preston Grasshoppers – 23/10/21 – K.O. 3:00pm

Preston Grasshoppers make their shortest journey ever for a away league fixture this coming Saturday when they travel to the Ramsgreave Road ground of Blackburn RUFC for what will be the very first meeting between the two in a League Match.

Spectators at Lightfoot Green last Saturday witnessed a game in which tempers flared at regular intervals throughout with the home side eventually gaining superiority on the scoreboard. One of the highlights of the game had to be Craig Proctor’s (pictured above) quick fire hat-trick off the bench, making Matt Lamprey’s twelve minute effort at Sandal look rather sluggish! Spread each side of the interval the trio of tries took just four minutes of actual play time.

Looking ahead to next week’s opponents, Blackburn RUFC had a creditable start to life in the Northern Premier League in what was their first venture into Level 5 rugby, finishing just above mid table when all games came to a halt back in March 2020. Prior to that our hosts played in the North 1West League, gaining promotion through a play off victory over Scarborough from the Eastern section at the end of the previous season.

Preston Grasshoppers players, coaches and supporters will well remember the fairly recent Lancashire Cup game at Lightfoot Green in which the home side only overcame a strong and determined Blackburn side in the last quarter.

Hoppers last visit to Ramsgreave Drive was also for a Lancashire Cup tie in which the visitors, and firm favourites as the senior side in league status on the day were given a sound thrashing, losing by eight points to thirty one.

Although this will be the first League meeting, there have been many games between the two going back to Hoppers resumption after the 1st World War.

The first game between Preston Grasshoppers and Blackburn RUFC was played on the 19th of November 1921 at Hoppers Ribbleside ground where the visitors ran out winners by sixteen points to four. The return game due to be played at Blackburn’s Yellow Hills ground on the 11th of February the following year was cancelled.

With the formation of league rugby in 1987, fixtures between the two clubs more or less fizzled out with just twelve meetings, the two most recent being Lancashire Cup matches.

There have been one hundred and twenty two games between the two clubs, a figure that might well surprise many people from Preston and Blackburn. Results of the encounters prior to WW2 were fairly even but Hoppers have been the dominant force since then, Blackburn winning just seven of the seventy two games during that latter period.

Interestingly, matches between the two continued during the war years, with a total of eighteen games being completed between 1939 – 1945.

The full record of meetings between Blackburn and Hoppers reads that out of the previously mentioned tally, Hoppers won eighty eight times to Blackburn’s twenty six with eight games drawn, two of which similar, to Hoppers visit to Cross Green in 2019, ended scoreless. Over the years there have also been nine cancelled fixtures.

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