|Haggis Cup Runners Up - Photo: Duncolm Sports|
Having ended last season as Movember Cup winners, the Rams trained all through the winter ready for April’s Haggis Cup in Scotland. The annual pre-season tournament saw the Huddersfield side lose narrowly in the final - just a goal adrift of hosts and winners, Glasgow Sharks.
During the Scottish tournament, the Rams triumphed against French side Paris Cockerels and the Edinburgh Bloods to reach the semi finals, where they narrowly beat AFLCNE compatriots Tyne Tees Tigers, before missing out on the silverware by just six points.
Despite this, Rams full-forward and founder, Karl Haigh, claimed player of the tournament having produced outstanding performances through the day. Other notable performances came from half-backs Ross Shirtliffe and Steve Hall, as well as the newly drafted, Regan Hargreaves.
The club’s development and progression during the close-season has been clear to see. The introductory sessions in January and February have paid off massively, along with the new players drafted in from the Rastrick High School development programme, with the 16 and 17-year-olds integrating into the squad very quickly.
The 2014 AFL Central and Northern League kicks off on Saturday April 26 when the Rams face Sheffield Thunder in the opener in Manchester.
The club are looking to build on last season’s finish, just outside the playoffs, and according to head coach Jason Battye, they have a realistic ambition of challenging for the title: “I have high expectations based on the strong Movember Cup performance and advanced skills illustrated in training and preseason games. We will have competition for match day squad which should drive players’ skill levels even higher.”
As one of the only clubs in the UK to have no Australian players, the Rams have recruited solely from the local area, but others choose to bring in the knowledge from down-under, which can strengthen the opponents: "Barring opponent’s recruitment of Australian players I expect nothing less than a final appearance this term because as long as we do the basics right we are more than capable of running any team on our day,” said Battye.
It all starts in Manchester on April 26, when we’ll see just how far the Rams have pushed themselves in the pursuit of being the 2014 Premiers.