KEIGHLEY RUFC have received the best possible 100th birthday present, with the promise of a busy January of on-field action.

They are due to play friendlies against Bradford & Bingley and Bradford Salem, before ‘cluster group’ clashes begin on January 23 against the likes of Baildon.

And the whole squad is set to be involved, despite some dramatic rule changes.

Keighley’s director of rugby, Russ Gibson, said: “We couldn’t get a game on the weekend just gone, but we’ve arranged to play Bees (Bradford & Bingley) on January 2, and we’re hoping to set another friendly up with Bradford Salem on January 9 or 16.

“The RFU and Yorkshire RFU have worked together to set up these ‘cluster groups’, basically just glorified friendlies, where we all go up against local teams that are around our level.

“They begin on January 23 and we’ve got Baildon and Old Grovians in ours. There are others a bit further away, but unfortunately, while we’re still in Tier 3, we can’t face those teams.”

In order to minimise contact, there will be no scrums or mauls in any of these matches, a key part of the game for forwards, but Gibson said: “The RFU are still saying that you need to field front rowers, so it should have no great effect on the team.

“It would only have been a real problem if teams had decided, with there being no scrums etc, that they wanted to play extra backs and go more mobile.

“But the RFU want teams to play a normal 15, so it’s fine.

“I’d expect the no scrums and mauls rule to be here for the whole of this season, and hopefully be back to normal when we’re in league action again next September.”

Asked if the lack of rugby union and rule changes are causing motivation issues at the club, from the first team down to the juniors, Gibson said: “It is a worry for us, as we need to keep people interested.

“At the moment, we just have to hold station as a club, and keep people engaged at training and with the few matches we can play.”

Something else that might help raise spirits at Keighley is their 100th anniversary, which they celebrated on Monday.

Asked what the club means to both himself and the community, Gibson said: “For me, I started playing for the club when I was 17.

“So I’ve been involved here in my playing career, and it’s nice to give something back now as director of rugby.

“There’s a lot of our fans and friends who are involved with the rugby club and it is a family club.”

And despite a raft of celebratory events having to be postponed in their 2020/21 centenary season, such as an auction and a ball, Keighley have a plan in place.

Gibson explained: “We’ve suspended all our plans, but we didn’t just want to push them back three months for them to be off again.

“So we’ve decided to move everything back a whole year and we’re trying to make them all happen.”