Rugby’s Ravenscroft Manx Shield is brought to a shuddering halt and is replaced by a new-look Ravenscroft Manx Trophy instead this weekend.

The reasons for the change are a little complex but have been shaped in part by restrictions on the way rugby was played in England during the Covid period.

When the Covid curtain came down, it appears that across England (the Isle of Man is part of England for rugby purposes) a significant number of senior players hung up their boots.

There was a restriction on younger players coming through to replace them until January 1, 2022 and the knock-on effect was a contraction in the number of adults playing rugby.

While this is shifting very slowly back to its pre-Covid position, adult rugby has been left with a short-term issue which is affecting both league rugby up to Vagabonds’ level and sometimes higher - clubs don’t have sufficient players.

This season domestically Ravenscroft rugby started positively. Ramsey and Southern Nomads were able to field two teams each, Douglas and Vagabonds combined forces and managed one, while Castletown and Western Vikings managed one each.

But as the Manx Shield went on, numbers have started to fall and the dreaded ‘walkover has started to appear more frequently on the results sheets.

Manx Rugby is run by the Manx Executive Committee and in the run-up to Christmas they decided that the Manx Shield simply wasn’t working and needed some dynamic surgery.

All remaining Shield games have now been marked as postponed and a new competition will take its place until Douglas and Vagabonds complete their league seasons in mid-March when the Ravenscroft Manx Cup will start.

The new competition will be the Ravenscroft Manx Trophy and will be played in what the RFU call a ‘cluster format’. Three teams will turn up to each venue and ensure that all available players are combined to form two teams.

They will play each other: a win for the home side will give them six championship points, while a win for the away two sides will give three each. There are sufficient rounds to ensure everyone gets one home round.

This tweak will ensure that wherever possible 15-a-side rugby will be played and as many players as possible get to participate. Formats like this are being deployed at regional levels all across England and the Isle of Man is in no way unique.

In week one this Saturday, Castletown will face Ramsey Reds and Western Vikings at Poulsom Park, while also in the south of the island Southern Nomads Greens will face Ramsey Blues and the Eastern Barbarians. Kick-offs remain at the usual 2.15pm.


Saturday, January 14:

Regional Two North West

Altrincham Kersal v Douglas

@ Altrincham Kersal ko tbc

Counties Three ADM Lancs/Cheshire

Vagabonds v Ellesmere Port

@ Ballafletcher ko 2.25pm

Women’s NC One North West

Vagabonds v Southport

@ Ballafletcher ko 2pm

Ravenscroft Manx Trophy

Castletown, Ramsey Reds

& Western Vikings

@ Castletown ko 2.15pm

Southern Nomads Greens, Ramsey Blues & Eastern Barbarians @ Ballakilley Park ko 2.15pm