The return of the Six Nations means no league matches for Douglas or Vagabonds men or women in the national leagues this Saturday.

But the gap in fixtures does allow the 2024 Ravenscroft Manx Cup to kick off.

This year’s final will be at Mooragh Park on April 27 but, with English league matches only finishing on April 6, there aren’t quite enough free Saturdays to fit in all the matches, hence there’s quite an early start.

The Cup and Plate competitions will follow last year’s format. Douglas, Ramsey, Southern Nomads and Vagabonds will take part and will play each other once on a league basis, with the top two playing off in the Cup final. Third and fourth will contest the Plate final.

Home and away has been decided by the RFU random fixture generator and Vagabonds will host Ramsey in the opening round this Saturday.

The two sides met in last year’s competition with Ramsey running out 30-0 winners at Mooragh Park, but this year I suspect the result may be a little closer.

Vagas still have a mathematical shot of promotion from Counties Four ADM Lancs/Cheshire and have improved much from last season. Ramsey by contrast have won all before them but haven’t had the same intensity of fixtures, which means Vagas could be a little more match ready.

The Ramsey squad will be missing some key players too. A freak collision looks to have ended Ramsey’s star man’s rugby career: Dan Richmond broke an eye socket in a Manx Shield game and his surgery means that the boots look like being hung up.

Ramsey are also likely to be missing Josh Corteen (thumb) and Ryan Wren (ankle).

Vagas came through a sometimes-brutal test against Blackpool last week with no reported injuries. Gavin Turnbull sat that game out, but could return and Dan Bonwick played almost one hour with no visible ill effects.

The Vagas set piece had the edge against Blackpool and they will no doubt look for more of the same against a lighter Ramsey eight.

On paper, this looks like a Vagabonds win but the Ramsey backline may have a say if they can establish a grip on the game

One game in Manx Shield

In addition to the cup tie, there’s also one fixture in the Manx Shield at Ballakilley Park where Southern Nomads host Western Vikings.

The game is second against third and, while neither side is likely to catch runaway leaders Ramsey, a win could see third-placed Nomads take second spot off Vikings.

The two sides met a little over one month ago and the game was pretty even until late in the second half when Rob Craine made a decisive cameo for Nomads, scoring one and making one for Peter Cope.

Vikings’ brothers in arms Harry and Jack Goodwin will no doubt be key for their side and Craig Martin, at half back if available, will give Nomads plenty of cause for concern.

That said, it’s probably going to be a Nomads win. Their half back pairing of George Callister and Mark Young will give them the advantage they need.


Saturday, February 24:

Ravenscroft Manx Cup

Vagabonds v Ramsey @ Ballafletcher

ko 2.15pm

Ravenscroft Manx Shield

PDMS Southern Nomads v Western Vikings

@ Ballakilley Park ko 2.15pm