Malton, York and Pocklington braced for traditional Boxing Day rugby clashes

TWO Ryedale rugby union stalwarts will be remembered at the annual Boxing Day clash between Malton Highlanders and Norton Swampies.

The traditional festive fixture sees North One East club Malton & Norton split into two camps for a day, with this year’s clash kicking off at 5pm at The Gannock.

The prize up for grabs is as usual the Hopper Trophy, commissioned in memory of former Malton player Dennis Hopper, who went on to appear for Yorkshire and Headingley.

From this year, the fixture will be billed as the Nigel ‘Bruiser’ Williams Memorial Match, to recognise the service given by Williams, who died suddenly of a heart attack in March at the age of 52.

Club spokesman Bill Laidler said: “Dennis played for Malton in the early days and we always presented the Hopper Trophy on Boxing Day.

“Now it will be the Nigel Williams Memorial Match played for the Hopper Trophy. Hopefully it will be a good tribute to them both.”

On the match itself, Laidler added: “It is Malton versus Norton, but no first-team players are used.

“It is usually lads coming back from university and that sort of thing – whoever turns up on the day.”

Meanwhile, one of the highlights of the Pocklington rugby calendar takes centre stage at Percy Road on Boxing Day.

Pocklington RUFC stage the annual ‘town versus gown’ match between the Percy Roaders and the Pocklington School former boys’ side, Old Pocklingtonians (kick off 1pm).

The match up began in the 1980s and has since become a firm favourite, with a number of former Pocklingtonians making their way back to East Yorkshire to meet old friends.

The two teams will be battling it out for the Bottomley Trophy, given by the family of George Bottomley who was both a Pocklington School old boy and a founder member of Pocklington RUFC.

In addition to the main contest there is also an impromptu second team fixture for anyone looking for a run out, and all players of any standard are asked to turn up with their kit at noon.

Pocklington have often held sway in the fixture in recent years, including a 48-10 victory last Boxing Day, but there was a surprise 22-17 win for the OPs in 2011.

There will be a minute’s silence before the game in memory of Old Pocklingtonian and Pocklington RUFC stalwart Alasdair Swann, who was also connected with Woodhouse Grange Cricket Club, who died recently.

Meanwhile, at Clifton Park, a York Select XV take on St Peters Old Boys (kick off 2pm).

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