News and comment from around the clubs and what the papers say.
The 2012-13 RFU Championship fixtures have been confirmed, with newcomers Jersey set to face 2011-12 runners up Cornish Pirates in the opening round.
Following their promotion from SSE National League One, Jersey will host Pirates at St Peter, with the visitors making a short trip across the English Channel for the start of their new season campaign. Ian Davies' men will then welcome Plymouth Albion to The Mennaye the following week in a classic West Country derby.
Having survived their debut season in the RFU Championship, London Scottish will host Rotherham Titans in a repeat of their 2011-12 opening fixture, which saw the hosts narrowly beat the Yorkshire men 16-11.
New for the 2012-13 season, a revision to the current structure will see the 12 clubs compete in a league across 22 rounds, with the bottom club relegated to SSE National League 1 and the top four clubs going on to compete in a two-legged semi-final and final. The winners of the semi-finals will go on to play in the RFU Championship final – also two legs.
The new structure provides 11 home games for the Championship clubs and a minimum of six games in the revised British & Irish Cup, which will now include financial rewards for RFU Championship clubs who reach the knock-out stages.
Dates Currently Provisional
|Bedford||Mar 2||Nov 23||Mar 23||Feb 9||Apr 13||Sept 15||Nov 3||Sept 1||Sept 22||Oct 6||Dec 22|
|Bristol||Oct 27||Sept 15||Dec 22||Nov 10||Jan 26||Dec 1||Sept 1||Sept 29||Mar 9||Mar 30||Feb 16|
|Pirates||Mar 31||Jan 5||Feb 9||Apr 20||Oct 28||Feb 16||Sept 23||Mar 10||Dec 2||Sept 9||Nov 11|
|Doncaster||Nov 10||Sept 8||Sept 29||Dec 1||Feb 16||Jan 26||Jan 5||Oct 27||Mar 30||Apr 20||Mar 9|
|Jersey||Sept 29||Mar 23||Sept 1||Apr 13||Dec 22||Oct 27||Nov 24||Sept 15||Feb 16||Nov 3||Jan 26|
|Leeds||Dec 1||Sept 22||Mar 2||Oct 6||Sept 8||Mar 9||Feb 9||Nov 10||Apr 20||Jan 5||Mar 30|
|Lon Scots||Jan 5||Apr 13||Oct 6||Sept 22||Mar 2||Nov 3||Sept 8||Nov 24||Feb 9||Mar 23||Sept 1|
|Lon Welsh||Mar 9||Apr 20||Jan 26||Sept 15||Mar 30||Sept 29||Dec 22||Feb 16||Nov 10||Dec 1||Oct 27|
|Moseley||Apr 20||Feb 9||Nov 3||Mar 2||Jan 5||Mar 23||Mar 30||Oct 6||Sept 8||Sept 22||Dec 1|
|Nottingham||Jan 26||Nov 3||Apr 13||Nov 24||Oct 6||Sept 1||Sept 29||Mar 23||Dec 22||Mar 2||Sept 15|
|Plymouth||Feb 16||Nov 24||Dec 22||Sept 1||Mar 9||Sept 15||Nov 10||Apr 13||Jan 26||Oct 27||Sept 29|
|Rotherham||Sept 8||Oct 6||Mar 23||Nov 3||Sept 22||Nov 24||Apr 20||Mar 2||Apr 13||Jan 5||Feb 9|
Bedford Blues Bedford Blues have announced the signing of Blackheath winger James Stephenson for the 2012/13 campaign.
The 22-year-old pocket rocket was a shining light for Blackheath last season and finished the campaign as one of the leading try scorers in Division one, crossing the whitewash an impressive 19 times.
Standing at five foot eight inches tall and weighing in at 82kg, Stephenson, who played for London Irish in last season’s JP Morgan Premiership Sevens tournament, will add plenty of competition for a starting place on the Blues wing next season.
Speaking about the signing, Bedford Director of Rugby Mike Rayer said: "We are always eager to add quality to the Bedford squad and James has plenty of it. We have been very impressed by his performances for Blackheath and think he can make a major impact at Championship level."
Meanwhile the Blues will head to the south of France for a pre-season training camp.
Last year the club’s destination was Jersey, and director of rugby Mike Rayer thinks these exercises are crucial in building the vital ingredient that is team spirit.
He said: “We’re organising a trip down to south of France for pre-season. Whether we play a fixture down there or having a training game, we’ll see what that brings to the guys.”
Full Story www.bedfordtoday.co.uk
Bristol Rugby have confirmed that Henry Vanderglas has passed a medical and will join ProD2 champions Grenoble ahead of the 2012/13 campaign.
The 26 year-old arrived at Bristol in January and went on to make eleven appearances.
Jersey Rugby Club have been given a plum fixture to herald their arrival in the Championship in September – hosting the swashbuckling Cornish Pirates.
Jersey Director of Rugby Ben Harvey has said an announcement about new signings would be made after the start of pre-season training in June.
London Welsh Issued The Following Statement This morning: 08/06/12
London Welsh RFC would like to confirm that it lodged an appeal with the RFU yesterday, within the agreed deadline, against the decision by the RFU not to promote London Welsh to the Aviva Premiership on the grounds that the club did not meet all the relevant Minimum Standards Criteria ('MSC').
The board of directors of London Welsh would also like to take this opportunity to thank not only its traditional and very loyal supporter base for all the help and encouragement it has given throughout the 2011/12 Season (and especially over the recent very challenging weeks culminating in the reward of winning the Championship), but also all those more neutral observers who have overwhelmingly lent their support over the past week or so to London Welsh in its bid to secure promotion to the Premiership. This includes not only the general rugby supporting public but more specifically owners and managers of Premiership clubs and other rugby clubs as well as leaders of clubs in the Football League and other sporting institutions.
These offers of help and encouragement extend not only to promises of financial and professional support but also to offering up, in several cases, sporting venues as stadia where London Welsh might wish to play their 'home' games in 2012/13. We are most grateful to all of you for this, which to our mind underscores very sharply what we believe to be the fundamental issue at stake here, namely that any team which demonstrates on the field of play that it has the requisite skills and resources to win through to the top of its division or playing group should be allowed to move on to the next tier thereby upholding the competitive spirit of sport in general and the ethos of promotion and relegation on merit based principles.
That London Welsh, in common with other teams already based in the Premiership who ground share with teams from the Football League, has arrangements already in place to play its 'home' games next season at a top sporting venue which would rank, in our view, as one of the best grounds offering up Premiership rugby in 2012/13, to our mind makes our case for promotion even more compelling and the reasoning behind its rejection even more difficult to fathom.
Thank you again to everyone for your continued support, loyalty and understanding of the principles we are seeking to uphold and your unequivocal commitment to our case.
Holford joins centre Joe Munro as the latest to commit to the Green and Whites for the 2012/13 RFU Championship season
While it took until the end of the week to complete the paperwork, Holford cut his Queen’s Diamond Jubilee long-weekend short to man up with his teammates for pre-season duties on Monday.
It’s the earliest the former Leicester Tigers and London Wasps tight head has kicked-off season preparations, but he admits he was eager to rejoin his teammates after contract negotiations were complete.
“What can I say, I must love pre-season to be here this early,” said Holford.
“I was a bit late coming on board, but didn’t ever want to leave. It’s a fantastic club, the lads here are great and the supporters are something else.
“Right now we are being worked hard, truly being ‘beasted’ with strength and conditioning work, but it only means that we are going to be sharp by the time we pick up rugby training in a few weeks time.”
Holford is determined to get the new season off to a flying start, having worked up a taste for tries in his first full season at Meadow Lane.
His knack for powering over the line, coupled with his no-nonsense approach to the game, quickly endeared him to the Nottingham faithful.
“Finishing as the third top try scorer for the club is no mean feat if I do say so myself,” Holford grinned.
“There are a lot of things to be happy about last season and plenty more that we can build on with the side that we have kept together.
“I love playing with Duffo (hooker Joe Duffey) and have played with Parry (prop Matt Parr) for years and years.
“We have the core of a good pack with the likes of Rousey (lock Nic Rouse) and Brent (flanker Brent Wilson) and young guys like Phil Eggleshaw coming up.”
Among the backs, Munro is a rising talent that Nottingham has secured as a readymade replacement for Juan Pablo Socino.
The 21-year-old, who next week sits his final sports management exams at Loughborough University, is determined to make the position at inside-centre his own.
“Last season I learned a lot about playing at this level, and now I’m ready to push on,” said Munro.
“I really had to balance things last season with study and it got pretty stressful, having to rush from training most days. Now I stay behind after practice, go over video with the team, do extra work and focus all my energies on my game.”
Plymouth Albion - The players returned to pre-season training yesterday – the day Saumi returned to Fiji for a much delayed break with his family.
The latest squad news from Albion:-
Dan Collier, Rob Dugard, Gareth Evans, Rupert Freestone, James Harris, Tyler Hotson, Steve Johns, Mark Lee, Tyson Lewis, Addison Lockley, James Love, Owain Lloyd, Davy McGregor, Cameron Mitchell, Sione Tu'ipulotu.
New Signings: Tom Bowen & Rhodri McAtee.
Bevon Armitage, Jack Andrew, Paul Bailey, Aaron Carpenter, Ruairi Cushion, Keni Fisilau, Sam Hocking, Ryan Hopkins, David Morton, Paul Roberts, Paul Rowley, Sean-Michael Stephen, Wayne Sprangle, Herbie Stupple. Jon Vickers,
Rotherham Titans have announced two further additions to their 2012-13 RFU Championship squad.
Titans head coach Andre Bester has recruited Will Hurrell from London Welsh and Toby Freeman from Spanish outfit Ordizia Rugby Elkartea.
Leicester-born winger Will Hurrell arrives at Clifton Lane with a fine pedigree having gained Premiership and LV=Cup experience with his home town club Leicester Tigers, having joined the Welford Road academy aged 16.
Hurrell developed his game at Melton RFC as well as Loughborough Grammar and Wyggeston and Queen Elizabeth First College.
He progressed quickly through county level to England U16s and by the time he was playing England U18s he’d moved from centre to the wing.
In 2008, his second year at Under 18s level, he was Player of the Tour of Argentina thanks to his match-winning hat-trick in the second Test. Hurrell has appeared in two U20 IRB Junior World Championships in Japan in 2009 and Argentina the following year.
Hurrell is no stranger to the rigours of Championship rugby, having made 19 appearances for London Welsh last term. He’s previously had spells on loan at Doncaster, Coventry and Nottingham and is sure to be an integral part of the Titans squad this term.
Andre Bester commented on Hurrell’s arrival by saying, “I was surprised to get Will as he is renowned as a top class performer who has played at a high level. He has good feet and a good frame and he’s very dangerous with ball in hand.”
Toby Freeman arrival at Clifton Lane is via an unorthodox route, having spent the last couple of years plying his trade for Ordizia Rugby Elkartea in the Basque region of Northern Spain.
Freeman helped Ordizia Rugby Elkartea finish runners-up in the División de Honor de Rugby competition, the highest level of Spanish club rugby last season.
Freeman also played his part in an historic Copa del Rey (Spanish Cup) win for his club. In what has been described as one of the most dramatic finals in recent seasons, Ordizia overturned a half-time 21-8 deficit against cup holders Cetransa El Salvador from Valladolid to snatch a 30-27 win.
Two second half tries from Freeman, which in no small measure helped turn the tide and saw him named man of the match. His prize was his weight in beer – so at 116 kg’s it was an impressive stack from the local sponsors.
At 6’ 5” and 18 stones Freeman will certainly add some bulk to the Titans pack. The 25 years-old is expected to be used primarily in the second row as a direct replacement for outgoing skipper Sam Dickinson; however he is capable of covering the back row if required.
His previous clubs include Exeter Chiefs where he played under Rob Baxter, Launceston, Birmingham Solihull and Penryn in Cornwall, the county of his birth.
Bester was especially pleased to capture Freeman, “Toby has a great pedigree and is very well equipped with his size, pace and power. He has tremendous leadership qualities and will bring a great deal of experience with him. He’s a good carrier of the ball and an exceptional operator in the line out. I’m excited to have Toby here and I’m looking forward to working with him.”