CHRIS KIRWAN: Newport's enforced inactivity highlights clubs' frustrations
10:01am Thursday 23rd January 2014 in Sport
BY this time next week the lesser-spotted Black and Amber will have made a rare appearance.
Newport RFC will end a five-week wait for action by playing a friendly at Blackwood on Tuesday, blowing a few cobwebs away before another seven days of passing the time for a competitive clash against Aberavon.
Through failing to qualify for the British and Irish Cup the Rodney Parade outfit are one of 10 Premiership teams with six-fixture gaping holes in their calendar.
A postponement and a Swalec Cup farce against Bonymaen – with the game shifted to Newbridge because the visitors didn't want to play on a Sunday, then falling victim to the weather, then moved back to Rodney Parade, then called off because the west Walians were hit by injury – have made it the perfect storm.
It certainly isn't a perfect situation for the Black and Ambers fans, nor the under-pressure coaching team after an under-par season so far.
Newport's list of New Year's resolutions would have been sizeable – they are the first to admit that the first half of 2013/14 has not been up to scratch – but they have been unable to act on it through January.
And now they will be flung straight into a pair of vital February encounters – a league game with bottom club Aberavon that could ease their fears of being dragged into a relegation dogfight and a tough Swalec Cup clash at Pontypridd.
It's far from ideal and Newport are certainly not alone, there are plenty of clubs that will kicking their heels in frustration over the coming months.
Cardiff may have filled a six-week void with friendlies against Bridgend Athletic, Cardiff Medicals, Glamorgan Wanderers, St Peters and Llandaff but there ain't nothing like the real thing.
Club rugby tends to grind to a halt over the Six Nations period; while those that are only interested in the Test scene dust down their red jerseys, those that head out in the cold and rain instead spend their Saturdays on the sofa.
Thankfully a bullet has been dodged this season thanks to Wales' Friday night fixture with France and Sunday afternoon trip to Twickenham.
But the fixture lists do little to dismiss charges that the club game is being treated as an afterthought.
The tills need to keep ringing and players want to be playing.
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