•Blackburn climb to record high in their 140 year history
•The success follows an historic away win in Douglas against the Isle of Man
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The Isle of Man isn’t an easy place to go and win. The stats speak for themselves.
Douglas RUFC, one of six teams based on the island, had lost only once on home turf since February 2016 and last season scored over 1,000 points on their way to promotion to North One West.
So it was with some trepidation that Blackburn RUFC boarded their plane to make the supposedly short flight to the Isle of Man in October.
‘The conditions were horrendous’
“We took off in the middle of Storm Brian so the winds were over 50 miles per hour,” says Blackburn’s head coach Dino Radice.
“We struggled to land and the pilot almost turned back but luckily after some heavy turbulence we got there.”
Not the most auspicious of starts in what was Blackburn’s first away trip to the Isle of Man for several years.
No sooner had the players arrived at the ground, they were on the move again. A waterlogged pitch meant the players had to cram into all the cars available to make the trip to Vagabonds RUFC.
“The conditions were the worst I’ve ever seen,” says Radice. “There was a howling gale and relentless rain. When we finally got underway I think our boys thought ‘OK, we haven’t come all this way to lose’.”
And they didn’t. Corey Logan scored the only try of the match to win 7-3 in what proved to be a significant result for the club.
“We were only the second team to beat them at home for two-and-a-half-years but more importantly that trip really bonded us.
“That day we went from a collection of guys who played rugby together to a group of friends.”
On a roll
Following the victory Blackburn went on to record six consecutive wins and as a result, they are now sitting in fourth spot, their highest standing in the leagues since they were founded in 1877.
“We got promoted three seasons ago to this league. We hung on for dear life in our first season, finished mid-table last season and now we’re pushing for promotion.
“I can pinpoint our success this season to that away win against Douglas. It gelled us and gave all the players belief.
“We lost three of our opening five games and I was starting to think about relegation but it has all changed now."
The side's promotion credentials will be tested this weekend as they travel to third-placed Warrington in a match that could make or break their dreams of level five rugby.
If the players can tap into the resilience spirit that secured them that historic win on the Isle of Man then the dream could well stay alive.
Updated 18:10 - 12 Jan 2018 by Denise Newman