OLD Grovians, who have already conceded three matches this season, including two in the past month, due to a lack of players, have a crucial forthcoming meeting.

The link between Grovians and their landlords Otley at Cross Green, as well as the bond between Grovians and Woodhouse Grove School, are well defined and strengthening.

However, what is less certain is the commitment of the Grovians’ players, and they have used approaching 70 in the first XV squad this season, to the ‘old boys’ club’.

Grovians’ head coach Ali MacDonald admitted: “We have a very important meeting coming up with our stakeholders, i.e. the players, which really decides where the club goes.

“What do they want from rugby? What does success look like?

“Everybody thinks that it is climbing the leagues as high as you can at the expense of everything else.

“But that is not what I regard as success. I regard success as turning out two teams every week and having a thriving junior section, which is essentially our link with the school.

“Some of our young players are the most skilful that I have coached so far, and if we get 70 players committed and available every week for next season then that is two squads.

“Going forward we will have a closer link with Otley and a closer link with the Grove, and maybe bring in a few of Grove’s players in the closing weeks of the season.”

One reason for the high turnover of players has been the strict rule about front-rows.

MacDonald said: “Right at the start of the season, we lost two front-rowers, so straight away we were on the back foot, and in the game at Keighley on March 5 we lost six players (not all front-rowers) who would be out for the rest of the season.

“And then for the Hullensians match (on March 12) we lost two further front-rowers to long-term injuries, and we had to concede the following week (at home to Leeds Corinthians) due to unavailabilities as it was a re-arranged game.

“It is difficult when the front-row rule is so strictly implemented. I am all for scrums and having props, but on re-arranged weekends it is just a lottery - we could have put a team out but with no front-rowers.”

Having lost 41-38 at Wensleydale last time out, next-to-bottom Grovians hosted fourth-placed Wath in Yorkshire Two on Saturday, and MacDonald was frustrated that his side gained no more than a bonus point for four tries, as they lost 40-32.

He said: “We had a strong team, but not our strongest team, but when does that happen?

“We could have got more than a four-try bonus point, but fair play to Wath. When they upped their tempo, they were a lot more direct than us, and one to 15 they were a lot bigger than us.

“Our tackling in the first half was probably our only negative as the way that we played was the most structured that we have had all season.

“But when you tackle guys high who have 20 kilos on you, there is only one way that you are going and that is back.

“But then there is the tempestuousness of youth because they want to score coast-to-coast tries every time that they touch the ball.

“However, it is encouraging to hear them say ‘we do five phases and cross the gain-line and then do another five’, and focus on patterns and our structures.”

In a game that had more than its fair share of unusual incidents, such as Grovians having two players in front of the kicker at the kick-off and Grovians left wing George Butler having a try ruled out for placing the ball beyond the dead-ball line, Wath led 19-13 at half-time.

Wath tries came from winger Joel Gunn and lock Sean Hopper (2), with fly half Jack Whitlam adding two conversions.

Grovians replied with a close-in try by full back Max Kennedy, via some nifty footwork, and a conversion and two penalties by Yorkshire Under-20 player Louis Anderson.

Grovians scored the first two tries of the second half, via Butler and fly half Matt Sheard, with Anderson landing one conversion.

But Wath, who had coach Alan Yuill sent from the touchline for dissent, held the whip hand in the final half-an-hour or so, bagging tries by flanker Ashley Rothery, replacement Alex Roebuck and Hopper’s hat-trick effort.

All were converted by Whitlam, but Grovians had the last word near full-time via a Kennedy try from a Jake Bentley pass that the latter converted, but it left them a tantalising one point short of a losing bonus point.

Elsewhere in Yorkshire Two, Keighley blew the chance to put one hand on the trophy by losing 22-6 in their title battle at Wetherby, while Baildon lost a close encounter 29-25 at Leeds Corinthians.

Up in North One East, Cleckheaton edged closer to promotion with a thrilling 34-31 win at Scarborough, with rock-bottom Bradford & Bingley lost 87-14 against Heath.

In Yorkshire Three, Wibsey conceded to Halifax Vandals.