A NARROW 30-25 defeat at Bridlington in March condemned Keighley to relegation from Yorkshire One. It was the last game they would play in seven months.

But they are finally back in action, with a six-team tournament involving teams from around the district getting underway.

Keighley face a double header with Bradford Salem, playing them at home today, then away next Friday.

And they have already played their two fixtures with Skipton.

But the tournament, which also features Wharfedale, Baildon and North Ribblesdale, is not quite rugby union as we know it.

Keighley's head coach, Dan McGee, explained: "It's a 10-a-side touch tournament with rotating substitutes.

"We should be hosting Salem this week and then playing away against them next Friday, but we've already started with two games against Skipton. One was a week last Saturday and the other was the Thursday just gone.

"We had two squads of 14 or 15, an A and a B team, and they all played in both games.

"On the Saturday we did six 15-minute games, as I think that's the maximum playing time you're allowed before a break.

"There's no strict rules for the tournament, it just depends on what both sides agree.

"The lads want to get back to contact rugby soon, as that's why you play, but this is the next best thing and it's something to focus on."

Keighley have been back in training for the last three or four months, but community rugby union suffered a blow when it was announced a few weeks ago that leagues below the Premiership and Championship would not return until January at the earliest.

McGee said: "It was a blow to get that news, as we've done well as a club to stay as safe as we can.

"We've trained in small groups, worked on skills, fitness and had odd mini-games.

"We've followed the guidelines in place all the way through, and adapted when they've changed.

"Our challenge is to keep the players motivated, as there'll be no rugby this winter after this tournament is over and what we have now is nothing like the proper thing.

"We've tried to make it enjoyable at training, and wanted it for that social element as much as anything, as it's a rare chance to be able to be around larger groups at the moment."

Speaking of motivation, Keighley are determined to try and bounce back from last season's disappointment if and when the Yorkshire Two season gets underway.

It is not yet certain whether promotion and relegation would be in place if it did.

McGee said: "We had a debrief in the off season between the players and coaches, and agreed that we wanted to put things right after last season.

"The short term goal was to try and bounce straight back up.

"It's been frustrating (to not play) as we feel like we have a strong team. We have some young lads coming through, we've retained most of the squad from last season, and we've added a couple of lads from Wharfedale Foresters.

"Tom Whyte had been their captain over the last few years and is a good player in the back row and Oliver Snowden had been a regular for them in the second row."

McGee added that while Keighley's mini rugby union tournament was not officially behind closed doors, they are trying to discourage fans from coming down.