Pre-season match previews, plus news and comment from around the clubs and what the papers say.
Tonight - Friday 10th
Bedford Blues v Saracens 7:45pm
London Irish v Nottingham (at Sunbury) 7.45pm
Cornish Pirates v Loughborough Students 3pm.
Newcastle Falcons v Doncaster Knights 1pm
Newcastle Falcons v Leeds Carnegie 5:30pm
Jersey v Leicester Tigers 4pm.
Plymouth Albion v Taunton 3pm
Bedford fans get their first view of the new look squad tonight when Saracens visit Goldington Road
The two clubs enjoy a close relationship with nine players dual-registered this term and another on a season-long loan.
Director of Rugby Mike Rayer has named four of his five summer signings in the first XV.
Rayer speaking to Bedford Today said: “We’ve been lucky that Saracens come here regularly now due to our relationship.
Veteran back-rower Paul Tupai will be missing though, and is out for a month following a scheduled cartilage operation."
But the rest of Bedford’s squad, along with a number of trialists, are set to feature, with Rayer adding: “The ones who are fit. We are down to about 25 players at the moment.”
Saracens new signing, second row Alistair Hargreaves makes his debut tonight , the new signing from the Sharks starts the match in what is the first of four friendlies for the north London club.
Fellow new signings Nick Fenton-Wells and Lorenzo Romano are named on the bench.
15. James Pritchard (c), 14. Mark Kohler, 13. Henry Staff, 12. Mark Atkinson
11. James Stephenson, 10. Ian Vass, 9. Darryl Veenendaal
1.Darren Fearn, 2. Chris Locke, 3. Ben Cooper, 4. Ben Gulliver
5. Alex Rae, 6. Gregor Gillanders, 7. Darren Fox, 8. Don Barrell
Dan Seal, Scott Spurling, Neil Cochrane, Phil Boulton, Mike Howard,
Jon Vandermolen, Sacha Harding, Tom Armes, Ali Price, Jake Sharp, Heath Stevens.
15. Chris Wyles, 14. Ollie Marchon, 13. Joel Tomkins, 12. Duncan Taylo
11. James Short, 10. Charlie Hodgson, 9. Richard Wigglesworth;
1. Mako Vunipola, 2. Jamie George, 3.Petrus Du Plessis, 4. Eoin Sherriff
5. Alistair Hargreaves, 6. Jackson Wray, 7. Will Fraser, 8. Ernst Joubert (c).
Jared Saunders, John Smit, Lorenzo Romano, Billy Johnson, Arran James-Nicholls
Nick Fenton-Wells, Jonno Ross, Nils Mordt, Adam Powell, Ben Ransom.
Bristol’s opening game ended in a 35-20 defeat at the hands of Top 14 side Agen.
But Liam Middleton will take plenty of positives from a solid display that saw the visitors score three tries through Ryan Edwards, Bryan Rennie and Ross Johnston.
In the second game, Narbonne emerged 24-10 winners at Parc des Sports Et de l'Amitié on Monday evening.
Bristol conceded three tries in a fiery affair that saw four yellow cards – two for either side – during the first period.
Bristol travel to Musgrave Park next Friday to face Munster.
In other news from Bristol
LIAM Middleton sees new signing Alafoti Faosiliva as the perfect man to fill the gap in Bristol's squad left by Josh Ovens' return to Bath.
The 6ft 1in, 18st ball-carrier is the latest addition to the squad Middleton will be looking to guide into the Aviva Premiership over the coming nine months – but he is not likely to be the last. The head coach is still on the lookout for a front-row player – and said he was close to landing his man.
"We are still going to recruit a front-row player, which has been on the cards since the start," said Middleton. "As we have shown in bringing in Mike Tagicakibau and now Alafoti, we are prepared to wait for the right people.
Full Story www.thisisbristol.co.uk
The Pirates are anticipating some exciting rugby with the visit of Loughborough Students tomorrow,
The new boys are raring to go and can't wait for their first action with the Pirates.
Alongside members of the squad who are fit to play, a number of players who have been training with the team may also make an appearance on Saturday.
Loughborough Students side gathered for pre-season on the 1st August and have been training hard in preparation for this match, their first pre-season game.
There are a number of new faces joining the squad as Loughborough look to replace one third of their squad who left last season.
Nine of the 12 leavers have gone on to take professional contracts, including, Fred Silcock (Jersey), Will Simpson (Doncaster), Olly Robinson (Moseley), Alex Allan (Edinburgh) and Russell Weir (Scotland 7s).
In what is set to be an exciting season in National 1, Head Coach David Morris along with Skills and Attack Coach Scott Bemand, have been working hard to create a pre-season that will ensure the new squad are fully prepared come the first league game of the season against Blackheath.
Grant Pointer, Sean Morris, Tom Riley, Junior Fatialofa, Matt Evans
Aaron Penberthy, Tom Kessell, Ben Maidment, Phil Burgess, Kyle Marriott (capt)
Gary Johnson, Darren Barry, Ben Prescott, Rob Elloway, Ryan Storer.
Paul Andrew, Darren Semmens, Alan Paver, David Lyons, Charlie Davey, Oli Farley
Gavin Cattle, Kieran Hallett, Alex Cheesman, Tom Bedford, Chris Ashwin.
Referee: Tom Foley
Assistants: Nick Williams & Ian Pengelly
The match will open the festival an event that sees a triple-header of matches taking place at the Falcons’ Kingston Park Stadium.
The Knights clash with the Falcons Kicks Off at 1pm and is followed by Consett RFC taking on the Illinois Tornados.
The final game of the day is at 5.30pm and is between another Newcastle XV and Leeds Carnegie.
The Falcons have outlined their intentions to bounce straight back to top flight rugby having been forced to ply their trade outside the Aviva Premiership for the first time since 1995, but Brett Davey’s men will not fall aside easily and they intend on taking the notable scalp of Dean Richards’ side ahead of a return Championship clash next month.
Director of Rugby, Davey said: “Continuous improvement across the three pre-season games is our priority, which with any luck will allow us to hit the ground running and pick up as many points as possible in September.
“The game will give a minor indication to the standard of the Falcons squad as we don’t know what team they will field, although when we play them in the Championship they will definitely be stronger.
It's been a summer of anticipation for players and supporters in Jersey, ever since the words Leicester and Tigers were posted on the board on the Airport Road marked 'Next Match'.
The step-up to the RFU Championship has meant an extensive summer shopping spree from Director of Rugby Ben Harvey, who has signed up nine new players, one returnee and a pair of natives upgraded to full-time status.
The star name is the England 'A' and Sevens international Richard Haughton on the wing from London Wasps, joined in the backs by former Cornish Pirates' centre Tom Cooper and scrum-half Joel Dudley.
However much of the added beef comes in the forwards, a reflection of both the increased physicality of the Championship, but also the injuries that affected the Jersey pack last season.
Ben Harvey has announced a 24-man squad for the game, captained by Nathan Hannay, although he stressed that not too much should be read into who starts and who is brought on - all the subs are likely to be introduced.
In the mix for the Jersey pack are new signings Richard Barrington and Sean McCarthy (both props), hooker Steve Boden, and second rows Dave Markham and Rob Anderson.
New Number 8 Fred Silcock misses out as he recovers from ankle surgery, but Trower takes a place on the bench after recovering from injury sustained in the final league game of 2011/12.
The starting number 8 is former captain Talite 'Vee' Vaoileti, back in Jersey after a two-year stint in Yorkshire, while Charlie Clyde-Smith starts at number six in his first game since becoming a full-time member of the squad.
After Tigers, and a team-bonding-boot-camp affair in France, the Jersey side will tackle Loughborough Students on Saturday August 25th (k-o 3pm) in the final action before the Championship starts with Jersey v Cornish Pirates on September 1st.
Richard Barrington, Steve Boden, Ben Evans , Nathan Hannay (Capt)
Rob Anderson, Charlie Clyde-Smith, Guy Thompson, Talite Vaoileti
Nicky Griffiths, Ross Broadfoot, Ed Dawson, Donovan Sanders
Mike Le Bourgeois, Richard Haughton, Glenn Bryce,
Sean McCarthy, Dave Felton, James Gethings, Dave Markham, Eoghan Nihill
Nick Trower, Joel Dudley, Tom Cooper, Dai Bishop, James Copsey
About Jersey RFC
Jersey Rugby Football Club is affilliated to the Hampshire Rugby Football Union and has four senior sides:
They have Academy sides running from U7s to U17s; the U14s, U15s and U16s all play in the Hampshire Division 1 leagues for their respective age groups.
Rugby has been played in Jersey since 1879 with breaks for war and the Nazi occupation, but the modern era started when the club acquired the land for a permanent home near the airport in 1961.
The original wooden clubhouse was built in 1964 and its approximate location was in the middle of the Jersey Bowl carpark. From the early 1970s, when tourism on the island was at its peak, Jersey attracted many of rugby's top clubs who could combine a break from their regular fixtures with a game against the JRFC.
The current clubhouse was opened in September 1994 and corresponded approximately with the start of the leagues.
At that stage, Jersey could no longer rely on visiting sides and had to join the league in Hampshire
Using proceeds from a specific fund-raising raffle, floodlights were installed around the 1st team pitch in time for the start of the 2011/12 season. This latest development will ensure that regardless of time of year, JRFC will be able to maintain a 3pm kick off time
This game forms part of the previously mentioned Falcons Festival and follows the Falcons v Doncaster Knights match at 1pm and the later Consett v Illinois Tornados.
It will be the first chance to see Diccon Edwards' new look squad in action in what will be a competitive game against the newly relegated Falcons, who have made a number of big signings ahead of their first campaign back in the Championship.
In Other News From Leeds
Leeds have announced the signing of 21-year-old prop Lee Imiolek on loan for the season from Aviva Premiership side Sale Sharks.
Imiolek, who has played 26 times in the Premiership in the last three seasons, has joined up with Leeds Carnegie this week and is set to make an appearance as a replacement for Diccon Edwards’ side in their first pre-season game tomorrow at Newcastle Falcons.
Commenting on the signing, Director of Rugby Chris Gibson said, “We are delighted to bring Lee to the club and grateful to Sale Sharks for allowing the move to come about.
Our partnership with the Sharks proved beneficial for us both last season and we are pleased to continue it. Lee has shown his quality with Sale in the Premiership and he will add to our front row options for the season.”
Falcons kick off their pre-season programme tomorrow with a Festival Of Rugby.
With games against Doncaster at 1pm followed by Leeds at 5.30pm, the Falcons are set to get their first taste of Championship rugby.
New Falcon’s skipper, Newcastle-born Welch, 22, was handed the captain’s armband last month and will feature this Saturday as the Falcons host Doncaster and Leeds either side of Consett Rugby’s duel with touring side Illinois Tornados.
Welch said: “We are all aware of how tough it is going to be this season, but I am more than confident that we have got a squad capable of getting this club back up to the Premiership where it belongs.”
London Irish v Nottingham
Tonight Friday 10th
Kick Off 7.45pm
Nottingham kick-off pre-season away to Premiership club London Irish tonight
It looms as a tantalizing friendly at Sunbury-on-Thames as new Green and Whites head coach Martin Haag finds himself pitted against his predecessor.
Glenn Delaney, who spent seven years as Nottingham director of rugby, took the job as forwards coach at the Exiles in May.
Haag has since hit the ground running at the Green and Whites' training base at Lady Bay, taking the reins full-time last week.
While it's set up as an intriguing showdown between the new and old bosses, for players the exhibition match comes as a long awaited rugby test having started pre-season preparations on May 28.
Nottingham are taking a large squad and will look at who merits a place for the first league game
Parr, Wright, Holford, Quinn, Rouse, Eggleshaw, Wilson, Shaw
Barnham, Lynn, Crane, Munro, Streather, Hough, Stokes.
Shields, Cooper, Romans, Todd, Montagu, Arlidge, Joe Cobden
Jack Cobden, Savage, Calladine, Priest, Boggis, Bradford.
New Zealand International, Bryn Evans, will captain London Irish in what is the Exile’s first pre-season match
Tomás O'Leary will make his15 a side debut for the Exiles as he forms the half back combination with the returning Shane Geraghty. Conor Gaston will also make his first full appearance for Irish as he lines up in the back three with Topsy Ojo and Tom Homer.
Scotland international, Scott Lawson will start at hooker alongside Max Lahiff and Leo Halavatau.
Tongan prop forward, Halani Aulika, and Cai Griffiths are both named among the replacements.
1. Max Lahiff, 2. Scott Lawson, 3. Leo Halavatau, 4. Bryn Evans (Captain)
5. Matt Garvey, 6. Alex Gray, 7. Ofisa Treviranus, 8. Charis Hala'ufia
9. Tomas 0'Leary, 10. Shane Geraghty, 11. Conor Gaston, 12. Joe Ansbro, 13. Jonathan Joseph, 14. Topsy Ojo, 15. Tom Homer
16. Brian Blaney, 17. Halani Aulika, 18. Cai Griffiths, 19. James Sandford, 20. Jamie Gibson, 21. Steve Shingler, 22. Darren Allinson
Albion welcome National League 2 South sideTauntont to Brickfields tomorrow
Last Friday Albion beat Launceston, another ND2S side, 67-0
A crowd of around 300 - a record at Brickfields for a pre-season friendly - saw Albion score six tries in the first fifteen minutes
Albion’s Jon Vickers – speaking to the Western Morning News - insists Plymouth Albion must turn Brickfields into the ground "away teams hate coming to" if they are to enjoy a successful 2012-13 Championship season.
The 23-year-old former Exeter Chiefs and Northampton Saints forward said: "if we can make teams feel that they will be making a long trip to Plymouth for nothing, then we'll give ourselves a solid base to work from.
In short, I want teams to fear coming to Brickfields – making our ground a fortress is the one goal."
Full Story www.thisisdevon.co.uk
Guy Williams of the Star says Titans coach Andre Bester is delighted with the progress being made at Clifton Lane.
Bester, now preparing his players for their next game at Macclesfield on Wednesday, said: “I am happy where we are at the moment. We are in a better position than we were at the same period last year.
“The game at Sheffield Tigers was a good and worthwhile exercise. I thought Tigers were very committed.”
Although Tigers were well beaten 57-12 and let in nine tries, the Sheffield team scored two tries and set up threatening positions on the Rotherhamline.
Full Story www.thestar.co.uk
Titans Pre- Season Results
Sheffield Tigers 12 Rotherham Titans 57
Tuesday August 7th
Hull Ionians 7 Rotherham Titans 60
Saturday August 4th