Sheffield’s bid rugby derby: Cousins Jimmy and Nick Pearson can’t wait to reignite big rivalry

editorial image
Have your say

Finally, the nine year wait is over.

Sheffield Tigers and Sheffield RUFC will come face-to-face again next season; meaning rugby rivalry will rear its fiery head once again for the Pearson family.

I won’t target Jimmy on the field but he is just another player on the day, so I will go in hard

For Tigers skipper Nick Pearson, aged 32, is the cousin of Jimmy, 36 - captain of Sheffield RUFC.

Due to a team allocation issue, Sheffield could have ended up playing in the Midlands League next season following their promotion from North One East.

Confirmation that they will face their rivals had prolonged Sheffield’s celebrations, which kicked off when they secured a dramatic 35-29 play-off victory over Kirkby Lonsdale.

Tigers, meanwhile, were disappointed after finishing just outside the promotion play-off places, in third.

And Jimmy, a former Tigers player, said: “It’s incredible for this city.

“Knowing that this could happen last season really focused us when we were gunning for the promotion.

“I’m glad I get a second chance at competing in this fiery rivalry because I was injured for the whole season the last time this happened.

“Sheffield didn’t fare too well [Tigers won both games, by 36-3 and 37-3 margins] but I believe it will be a lot closer this time around.

“We will be focusing on fitness heavily in pre-season as this is something that must be improved to make that step up to the division above.”

Tigers’ No.8 Nick, who was playing for Sheffield when the two sides last faced each other in 2006, added: “Jimmy and I used to dream of captaining our sides when we were kids but neither of us thought this situation could actually happen.

“It’s all change for me of course, leading Tigers, which will make the occasion even more special for our families because both sides will be represented.

“It will be a real thriller to watch and Sheffield will more than compete against us. Each side knows the strengths and weakness of each team so on the day it will be down to who can rise for the occasion.”

Tigers, who play their home games at Dore Moor, started their pre-season this week and will test out the side in the summer on a tour of Bournemouth tour, with fixtures against Huddersfield and Dinnington to follow.

Sheffield so far have matches against Paviors and Mansfield RUFC lined up.

Very few changes will be made to the Abbeydale-based club’s promotion winning squad from last season - but they will be without key player and flanker Dave Bradford, who is moving to Ireland.

Tigers, meanwhile, will be without forward Josh Redfern, who joined Rotherham Titans at the end of last season. But they are boosted by the scoring prowess of last season’s Rotherham Titans back-liner Jamie Broadley. He will fill in for Henri Packard, Tiger’s highest try scorer last season with 30, who will be abroad until Christmas.

“There is a huge buzz around the club at the moment, and we are 100 per cent aiming for promotion this season - and hopefully the title,” said Nick.

“We can be very slow out the blocks at the start of the season but having Sheffield second up will really get us focused and set us up for a great run of games.

“The lads are already all talking about the match, and I’ve definitely noticed more people in the gym sooner than last pre-season. We are taking this very seriously and players like Broadley coming back to the club will give us the edge over Sheffield, I think.”

Both captains have insisted that, whilst there will be a family battle on the pitch, the club rivalry will not cause a family feud off it.

The cousins are best mates, they say, and discuss match performances and skipper duties in a weekly phone call.

“I often talk to Nick about tactics and game plans,” Jimmy added with a laugh.

“I suppose early on in the season, though, we may be keeping a few secrets and tricks up our sleeves!

“But whatever the result it won’t affect our relationship - because as soon as we step off that pitch we are friends again. It’s just for those 80 minutes, you put a guard up.

“I’ll be asking for advice and swapping notes throughout the season about other teams because the main focus for Sheffield is about making sure we survive the league and hopefully get a solid footing to build on for future years.”

Nick added: “They’ll be no targeting one another on the pitch... although I can’t say I won’t be going in hard for tackles.

“Because on the day Jimmy is any other player on that pitch.

“It’s great to see that the sport is flourishing in the city and I hope Sheffield embraces the year of rugby, with the World Cup.

“What a great spectacle derby day will be.”