It's been 17 weeks - that's 119 days, or 2,856 hours, even 171,360 minutes, and an incredible 10,281,600 seconds - since Bedford Blues last took to the field for a game of rugby, so it's fair to say that there is some excitement about this weekend's pre-season fixture against Plymouth Albion.

The game, which kicks off at 3pm on Saturday at Goldington Road, will be Director of Rugby Mike Rayer's first real opportunity to cast his eye over his squad in a competitive match following two months of hard graft on the training field.

It will also be the perfect opportunity for Bedford's new recruits to acclimatise themselves to the home pitch and experience the support of the fans who will be just as excited about seeing the Blues in action once again. 

Looking ahead to the fixture, Rayer said: "It's been a long summer and there have been a lot of changes around the squad and in the coaching set-up, but I'm confident that we have a great group of lads who are looking forward to getting stuck into the Championship this season.

"There have been quite a few changes in playing personnel this summer, but I've been so impressed with the way in which the new recruits have settled into life at Goldington Road. There is a great harmony around the club and I'm looking forward to seeing this transfer onto the pitch.

"We have a tough challenge ahead of us this weekend as Plymouth finished last season in fine form and will be looking to push on once again. Kieran Hallett put together an excellent squad, and in my opinion, they are a Championship side in waiting. We certainly can't take anything for granted and it'll be good to see how the lads cope with such a huge task.

"It is also a great opportunity for me and the coaches to see all the players in action and see how they interact with one another. We will have the opportunity to try some different combinations and get a clearer idea of what our strongest looking team could be when the season kicks off against Richmond on 2nd September."

Bedford will make use of 29 players during this weekend's fixture with new signings Chris Czekaj, Rich Lane, Will Hooley, Lee Dickson, Sean McCarthy, Tom Lindsay, Alex Penny and Jarad Williams all set to start for their Goldington Road debut while Alex Rae makes his return to the Blues.

Bedford Blues starting line-up:

15. Chris Czekaj
14. Ryan Hutler
13. Rich Lane
12. Michael Le Bourgeois (c)  
11. Howard Packman
10. Will Hooley
9. Lee Dickson
1. Sean McCarthy
2. Tom Lindsay
3. Alex Penny
4. Ed Taylor
5. Will Carrick-Smith
6. Alex Rae
7. Ben Adams
8. Jarad Williams

Replacements: George Edgson, Jacob Fields, Camilo Parilli-Ocampo, Ralph Adams-Hales, Dave Spelman, Paul Tupai, Justin Blanchet, Josh Buggea, James Lennon, Harry Sheppard, Dean Adamson, Matt Riddington, Ollie Dodge, Elliot Clements-Hill.

Reminder: This pre-season match is not included in the Season Ticket package and is ticket only entry. Buy tickets online with £4 advance online discount today by clicking here or pay on the gate tomorrow. For the match preview, including what’s going on around the rugby click here.

Next Home Match

Saturday 27th October
1st XV Championship
Goldington Road