Keswick Rugby Club’s traditional and hugely popular festive friendly fixtures against neighbours Penrith have been kicked into touch by coronavirus.
With the official season suspended because of the pandemic, both clubs had been hoping to return to action at Penrith’s Winters Park on Boxing Day before the return fixture at Davidson Park on New Year’s Day.
But reluctantly they have called off the double-header and associated hospitality in a bid to keep players and spectators safe and stop the spread of COVID-19.
“These friendlies between the clubs have been going for years and both games are always very well attended,” said Keswick president Allan Lambert.
“The games are great occasions. They span generations and give fathers and sons from both clubs the chance to play together when people are home for Christmas and New Year but you have to put it in perspective.
“In the greater scheme of things, playing rugby and meeting up for a social is not the most important thing in life,” he added.
It was with great reluctance that Keswick vice-chairman Trevor Keough and Penrith chairman Geoff Matthews agreed there would be no such meet-up this festive season.
Both clubs will miss out on a much-needed financial boost from bar takings at the social games which have been held for decades.
Cancellations are rare and previously only because of winter weather or flooding.
The local rivals compete for the Jimmy Morton trophy – in memory of the late Penrith Vagabonds stalwart – in the first game and then for the Firpress Trophy — provided years ago by referee Mike Firby – in the second encounter.