The hotly-anticipated centenary Siam Cup is off this year, with arch rivals Jersey and Guernsey battling it out twice next year instead.
Jersey Reds and Guernsey Raiders have agreed to a unique ‘double date’ for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, as this year's landmark match had to be cancelled because of the covid-19 pandemic.
All rugby is currently on hold, meaning both the Raiders and the Reds have seen their seasons come to a premature end, with all preparations for what many fans see as the end of season showpiece brought to an abrupt halt last month.
With no choice but to postpone the annual trophy decider, which was due to be played at Footes Lane in Guernsey on 2 May this year, the Siam cup organisers have instead said both the 2020 and 2021 matches can be played next May.
The exact dates haven't been announced yet, as they will depend on both sides' club fixtures, but the Raiders will host the Reds first for the 2020 centenary event, including both island's mens' 1st and 2nd XV, the women and veterans. Guernsey will then visit Jersey for the second round of all four games, later in the month.
Jersey Reds’ Chairman Mark Morgan commented: “The Siam Cup is hugely significant for both clubs. As well as its long history, it provides vital revenue for us both, which will be especially important as we look to recover from the impact of corona virus.
"We’re very pleased to have reached this agreement with Guernsey and that Santander International will be sponsoring both events once again.”
Charles McHugh, Chairman of Guernsey Raiders, added: “The Guernsey Raiders have reached out to the Jersey Reds to ensure neither club would be disadvantaged by the postponement of the 2020 Santander International Siam Cup festival of rugby. With the Raiders being promoted to National 2 South and set to play 30 matches and with Jersey Reds busy Championship playing calendar, it means there are few bye weekends where we could rearrange this fixture. Given the uncertainties surrounding the start date for next season, we have opted for the certainty of a double-header in May 2021.”
With Santander International agreeing to extend its sponsorship of the event for a third and fourth time, the double-header will be financially viable for both island sides.
James Pountney, Managing Director of Santander International, said: “We’re delighted with the decision that both islands will host the Siam Cup in May next year.
"After so many sporting events being cancelled this year due to the coronavirus, next year’s Siam Cup’s will be extra special for both islands.”
The Siam Cup trophy, made from silver coins, was presented in 1920 by Lieutenant-Colonel C.H. Forty, a Guernseyman who was part of a group of five Channel Islanders serving in Siam (modern-day Thailand) who wanted to encourage sporting competition between Guernsey and Jersey.
Organised rugby was not staged regularly at this time, but the trophy was first competed for between military sides in 1928, with the Island clubs commencing annual contests in 1935, since when the Siam has been interrupted only by the Second World War.
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