HAVE the days when rugby players were available every weekend of the season gone forever?

Old Grovians’ coach Andy Hinchliffe thinks they might have.

Ahead of their Yorkshire Division Two match against seventh-placed Wath, he said: “It is like herding Bees. We have a squad of 40 and we have 18 available, so selection takes care of itself but it's not just injuries.

“When I was playing you trained twice a week, played rugby on a Saturday and you were gutted if you were not picked.

“However, now players have more choices than I had and others had when they were young, and other priorities. They will play unless it is their grandmother’s birthday etc.”

Hinchliffe, who took over at Elm Tree Farm a year ago and is still getting used to the difference between coaching at Ilkley and Apperley Bridge, has a talented group of players to work with though.

Back for the sixth-placed hosts are scrum half Ben Brown, hooker Matthew Worrall and, if he returns from Japan in time, prop Joe Garforth.

Reversing the unavailability trend to a degree are ninth-placed Bradford Salem, who are at 11th-placed Bridlington in Yorkshire Division One.

Salem’s chairman Neil Klenk said: “In the past we have scraped together 18 to take to Brid, where we have had some good wins in the past and taken some hammerings, but we won on Saturday, which boosted confidence, and we had good numbers at training on Tuesday so should take a strong squad.”

Twelfth-placed Keighley, buoyed by a fine home win over Selby, have a short trip to leaders Old Brodleians.

There are two tasty fixtures in Yorkshire Division Three, with fifth-placed Baildon hosting second-placed Old Otliensians, while Wibsey, who are sixth, entertain Harrogate Pythons, who are fourth.

Wibsey’s versatile player-coach Andy Robinson, who slots in at scrum half this week, said: “I expect Pythons to be well organised but if we can defend like we did last week we can give them a good run.”

Scott Smith switches to the wing for the hosts due to a slight back injury, while Mark Darragh reverts to hooker from the back row, where Adam Jefferson has slotted in to improve their line-out options.

Wibsey (home to Harrogate Pythons): R Smith; B Mpofu, R Moore, A Batey, S Smith; H Hall, A Robinson; S Birkbeck, J Brown, J Bradbury, A Cerson, E Cousins, M Darragh, M Kite, A Jefferson. Replacements: A Wright, S Foulds, D Carr.