KEIGHLEY are confident that Saturday’s ‘massive’ game at home will go ahead as they prepare for the official opening of their new RFU Rugby 365 Artificial Grass Pitch.

Eyebrows were raised last weekend when their match at Rose Cottage against Moortown was one of six in Yorkshire Division One to fall foul of the freezing winter weather.

Having become milder in midweek, conditions were due to turn cold again going into the weekend, with overnight temperatures forecast to dip below zero.

The club will use hot-air blowers if needed to ensure the match against Selby goes ahead.

Special guests at the opening include England’s World Cup try-scoring hero and former British Lion Jason Robinson and RFU president John Spencer, while school and junior matches are also planned on the day.

Keighley head coach Dave Duxbury said: “We will get the ‘hair dryers’ out if necessary as it is too massive a day for the club and the area to have it postponed.”

Keighley and Moortown agreed on the decision to postpone last week’s game following a schools’ match on the pitch the night before.

Duxbury explained: “Bradford Grammar School and Woodhouse Grove School played on it last Friday night, and a number of the lads were complaining afterwards of abrasions to their arms and legs.

“It was a perfect storm really of snow on the Thursday that then froze and became like razor blades to the players.

“Carl Thewlis (rugby director) came over from Moortown and agreed with us over the postponement, but it is supposed to be getting warmer in the second half of the week.”

Keighley director of rugby Russell Gibson added about the new surface: “Some people are calling it an all-weather pitch, which makes it sound like you can play on it in all weathers, but artificial grass pitch is probably a better description as under the surface last weekend there was ice.”

Robinson, a renowned figure in both rugby codes, is sure to be the star attraction, while Cambridge University Blue Spencer, himself a former England international and British Lion, managed the British & Irish Lions on their tour to New Zealand in the summer.

Gibson echoed Duxbury’s confidence that the pitch will be playable and hopes the day will draw people in from further afield.

He said: “We will get industrial hot-air blowers in if we have to to make sure that the game goes on.

“We hope that we can attract spectators from a wider area.

“It is great for the club to have people of the calibre of Jason Robinson and John Spencer to help us mark the occasion.”

The celebration starts with a festival of schools’ rugby from 11am-1pm, with a break from noon-12.15pm for Robinson to perform the official opening.

There will then be a question and answer session with the league and union legend from 12.15pm-12.30pm before an under-15 girls game between Baildon and Old Brodleians (1pm-2pm) precedes the Keighley v Selby league match, which starts at 3pm.

Duxbury’s men will hope to earn their fifth win of the season in Yorkshire One against the league’s bottom side, who have won just once this campaign.

The day concludes with an under-15s boys clash between Keighley and Bradford Salem (5pm-6.15pm).

There will also be an outdoor bar and barbecue.

Duxbury added: “Wharfedale’s junior sections are already using the pitch, while there is also touch rugby being played on it, including girls who have never played the sport before.”

Keighley’s match against Moortown has been re-arranged for Saturday, February 10, as have the division’s other four postponed games.