THE rugby returns this week as the Regional 2 West Midlands division swings into gear for 2023. 

Following over a month out due to postponements and the Christmas break, the fixtures come thick and fast as we enter January. 

Third placed Malvern RFC will restart their title bid this weekend when they go to Wolverhampton. 

The visitors are seven points off the top but do have a game in hand and alongside Walsall, look to be the two main threat to Old Halesonians title hopes. 

Malvern are on a stunning run of form and will be looking to make it ten wins on the spin when they make the trip up to Wolverhampton.

But the last two games before the month long break were ones that could have easily gone the other way for Rob Cook’s men. 

They had to rely on two monster penalties from Dan Batty in the final six minutes to take a dramatic 16-12 win at Worcester, before they edged Stratford-Upon-Avon by a point in a low-scoring 13-12 win.

But Malvern go into the clash having already beaten this Saturday’s opponents in the reverse fixture back in October, when they cruised to a 44-14 bonus-point victory at Spring Lane.

With the top three being so close together in the table, there is no room for slip ups and if Malvern are to catch Old Hales, they have to keep winning.

Elsewhere in the league, Worcester RFC have been in free-fall since winning five of their opening six games of the season, losing six consecutive matches on their way to hitting ninth in the standings.

They take on strugglers Evesham this Saturday away from home, looking to get back on track after what has been a dreadful few months for Jonny Arr’s side. 

As for the hosts, they are going to need something special if they are to stay in the league as the bottom two are relegated.

Bottom side Droitwich look down and out without a win all season but Evesham have only won one more and are 14 points from safety. 

They will be hoping that they can turn rivals Worcester over and hope Crewe & Nantwich get nothing from their clash at title chasing Ludlow.

Second placed Walsall go to Stratford Upon Avon in what should be an even affair between two sides separated by only 10 points.

League leaders Old Halesonians continue to lead the way in the division and go in search of an eleventh straight victory when they welcome seventh-placed Whitchurch.

In the final game of the round, an out-of-form Hereford host bottom side Droitwich, looking to reignite their hopes of pushing further up the league.