Roughyeds Ready For New Season

MATT Diskin has known a challenge or two in his 20 years in Rugby League as player and coach, but nothing like the task he faces in taking charge of newly-promoted Oldham, who move up from Betfred League 1 to the Betfred Championship in 2020.

The Roughyeds' new head coach, who had previously stated that success in his first year at Oldham would be Championship survival, was no less honest and realistic when the fixtures were released this week.

"Every game will be tough," he said. "You can usually pick out the odd couple of games in a season that might be less of a challenge than the rest, but not in this fixture list.

"It looks like being the best and toughest Championship ever. 

"We've got a tough start and it doesn't get any easier with four away games in a row during May when Bower Fold will be shut down to allow remedial work to be done on the pitch.

"We need to have a big pre-season and, once it all kicks off, we need to roll up our sleeves and work hard in every game. If we do that, we'll get the results we deserve."

Both clubs will have new coaches in charge for the first time at Championship level ----  Diskin for Roughyeds, Aussie Tim Sheens for Widnes.

Widnes have revealed they will receive the full central funding under the RFL's new "return on investment" criteria, taking the Vikings' hand-out figure to just under £250,000 for 2020.

Salford hooker Logan Tomkins is a headline-hitting addition to the Sheens squad.

Tomkins, who worked with Sheens at Salford before the former Australian national team boss went to Hull KR, played in this year's Super League Grand Final for the Red Devils and his move to Widnes is regarded by the Vikings as a statement of intent for their ambitions in 2020.

It's a tough opening for Oldham, whose second match, on Saturday, February 8, sees them fly to the south of France to face Toulouse Olympique.

Setting out their stall to win promotion to Super League in 2020, the French have signed three international forwards in Harrison Hansen, Lloyd White and Samoan-capped Frank Winterstein, who arrives from Penrith Panthers after playing nearly 60 NRL matches with Canterbury, Manly and Penrith in Australia.

Roughyeds will be at home to derby rivals Swinton Lions on Good Friday but, interestingly, clubs across the board preferred not to play on Easter Monday, opting instead for evening games two nights later on the Wednesday.

Diskin's men go to Sheffied Eagles that night, Wednesday, April 15, 7.45pm kick-off.

On the following Sunday they're at Diskin's former club, Batley Bulldogs, giving them three games in nine days.

The visit to Bower Fold of Halifax on Sunday, April 26 is the last Championship game at the Stalybridge venue until Sunday, June 14.

 The four Championship games in May are all on the road, including the Summer Bash clash with Swinton Lions at Blackpool on the last day of the month.

This is to allow essential work to be carried out on the Bower Fold pitch at the height of the growing season.

The flip side is that four of the next five games are at Bower Fold.

The regular season of 27 games (that includes  Summer Bash as an extra) ends as it began --- but even tougher.

Toulouse will be at Bower Fold on Sunday, August 23, then Roughyeds go to Widnes a week later and drop the curtain  on their Championship return with a home game against London Broncos on Sunday, September 6.


           OLDHAM RLFC FIXTURES 2020

   (All Sundays, kick-off 3pm, unless stated)


2                           Widnes Vikings           H           

8  (Sat)                Toulouse Olympique  A  (3.30)

16                         Whitehaven                 A    



1                            Bradford Bulls             H

8                            Dewsbury Rams          H

21 (Sat)                Leigh Centurions         A

29                         York City Knights          H



10 (Good Fri)       Swinton Lions              H

15  (Wed)             Sheffield Eagles           A  (7.45)

19                          Batley Bulldogs           A

26                           Halifax                         H



3                            Featherstone Rovers   A

17                          London Broncos           A

24                          York City Knights          A

31  (Bash)            Swinton Lions   (at Blackpool)



14                           Leigh Centurions         H

21                           Sheffield Eagles           H

28                           Bradford Bulls              A



5                               Featherstone Rovers  H

12                             Batley Bulldogs           H

24 (Fri)                     Halifax                          A  (8.00)



2                             Swinton Lions              A

9                             Whitehaven                 H

16                           Dewsbury Rams          A

23                           Toulouse Olympique   H

30                           Widnes Vikings             A



 6                            London Broncos     H


Championship and League 1 games in 2020 that end all square after 80 minutes will go into Golden Point extra time.

Each team will receive one competition point, while a third point will be available to the first team that scores in two five-minute periods of extra time.

Looking ahead to the Championship season, RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer said: "All but two of the 14 Championship clubs enjoyed an increase in their average home attendance in 2019, as did seven of the 11 clubs in League 1.

"The challenge for all of us is to make sue we maintain that positive mood in 2020.

"London Broncos will enhance the competition after earning so much admiration in Super League last year and so will Whitehaven and Oldham, who performed so strongly to secure promotion from League 1."   


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