Caledonia cut to the quick by injuries

Rugby Union
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The Independent Online
Newly-formed Caledonia, a combination of the district sides North and Midlands, have been depleted by injuries just four weeks before the start of their Heineken European Cup campaign.

They are resigned to being without four internationals - the Scotland captain, Rob Wainwright, lock Stuart Campbell, hooker Kevin McKenzie and prop John Manson - and the half-backs Ken Harper and Mark McKenzie.

"In such extreme circumstances, we may have to consider drafting players into the district," the Caledonia coach, Ian Rankin, said. "It would have to be a decision for the SRU."

Rankin admits his team will be going into Europe with inadequate preparation. "We had just one training game against Nottingham using some of the less experienced players," he said. "But the problem is that league matches are back to back until the week before the cup begins. It will be very difficult to have quality sessions. Players, after all, do need rest."

The Caledonia captain, Dave McIvor, said: "We could be at a huge disadvantage without these key players. The calendar of events in Scotland should be looked at more closely. It is significant that in Ireland there will be no league matches until December. Moreover, the English, Welsh and French clubs' sides will have been playing together for a number of weeks. I don't think that we have been given a fair chance by the SRU."

Caledonia will play both their home games - against Ulster on 13 October and Brive a week later - at McDiarmid Park, the home of St Johnstone. The Perth stadium will also play host to Scottish Select v Australia on 5 November and Scotland Development XV v Queensland on 10 December.

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