Pre-season match previews, plus news and comment from around the clubs and what the papers say.
Tonight - Friday 24th
Cambridge & Bedford Blues (training game) 6:45pm
London Scottish v Richmond 7:30pm
Ulster v Newcastle 7:30pm
Worcester Warriors v Plymouth Albion 7:30pm
Cornish Pirates v Newport 5pm
Gloucester v Doncaster Knights
Jersey v Loughborough Students 3pm
Leicester Tigers v Nottingham 3pm
Worcester Warriors v Plymouth Albion
Saracens v Rotherham Titans 2:30pm
The Blues head to Cambridge tonigh to complete their final pre season plans with a match labelled as a training game.
Blues Director of rugby Mike Rayer, speaking to Bedford Today, says the game will give him a chance to experiment with things before the season kicks off.
He said: “We are not really using it as a game as a such it is more of a training session for us in many ways.”
With just over a week to go before the Champioship season starts Rayer says he is yet to make his mind up on the side he will put out against Moseley.
“I still don’t know,” he admitted. “I have got an inclination of what my starting 15 would be, but I am not absolutely 100 per cent made up on that.
Full Story www.bedfordtoday.co.uk
Bristol Rugby rounded off their pre-season preparations with a thumping 0-66 victory over Clifton on Thursday evening.
The visitors scored nine tries in a commanding display at the Cribbs Causeway ground.
Local boy Jack Nowell, a product of the Pirates youth section, is set to make his senior debut for the Cornish Pirates on Saturday.
The talented young Exeter Chief - who is dual-registered with the club - scored the try of the match for Exeter in their win against the Pirates last weekend, eating up half the length of the field in mesmeric style with a scintillating run that ended at the posts.
Wing Ed Tellwright and fly-half/full-back Jamie Forrester are two more gifted young players who have recently trained with the Pirates and are also named in the squad.
Tellwright - who starred for London Welsh in the recent J. P. Morgan Sevens - has played for Rotherham and England Students and will start on the wing, whilst Forrester represented Zimbabwe U20s in this summer's Junior World Trophy in the USA and played for his country in the IRB Sevens.
J. Nowell, E. Tellwright, T. Riley, T. Bedford, T. Kessell
K. Hallett, G. Cattle (capt), D. Ewers, K. Marriott, G. Johnson
D. Barry, D. Lyons, B. Prescott, D. Semmens, P. Andrew.
R. Storer, R. Elloway, A. Paver, P. Burgess, B. Maidment
A. Penberthy, A. Cheesman, J. Forrester.
Referee: Ross Campbell (RFU)
Assistants: Tom Foley & Steve Harland
Gloucester v Doncaster Knights
Kick Off 3pm
Brett Davey has named a strong side for Saturday’s clash with Premiership outfit Gloucester at Kingsholm .
The return of last season’s captain Chris Hallam is huge boost to the Knights giving added competition to an already formidable number nine jersey with Louis Silver and James Munro impressing in the opening two games.
Last season's top try scorer Michael Keating starts at full-back and top points scorer Dougie Flockhart on the wing.
Kicking duties will fall to Jamie Lennard who has shown early form from the tee and last weekend’s stand-out back James Tincknell lines up alongside Tom Luke to bring a physicality to match that of Gloucester.
15 Michael Keating, 14 Dougie Flockhart, 13 James Tincknell, 12 Tom Luke
11 Tyson Lewis, 10 Jamie Lennard, 9 Chris Hallam
1 Tom Davies, 2 Rhys Buckley, 3 Brian McGovern, 4 Phil Hoy, 5 Dominic Parsons
6 Matt Challinor ©, 7 Jethro Rawling, 8 Sam Pailor
Gloucester Director of Rugby Nigel Davies looks set to use this final pre-season friendly, to give his squad as much game time as possible.
Davies has named a strong starting XV against Doncaster but there are 20 replacements named which could mean multiple changes before the final whistle blows.
Jonny May; Charlie Sharples, Mike Tindall, Billy Twelvetrees, James Simpson-Daniel
Freddie Burns, Dan Robson; Nick Wood, Huia Edmonds, Rupert Harden
Tom Savage, Alex Brown (capt); Matt Cox, Akapusi Qera, Ben Morgan
Dan Murphy, Darren Dawidiuk, Shaun Knight, Peter Buxton, Will James
Sione Kalamafoni, Andy Hazell, Gareth Evans, Dave Lewis, Tim Taylor
Ian Clark, Tim Molenaar, Henry Trinder, Drew Locke, Shane Monahan
Rob Cook, Yann Thomas, Dario Chistolini, Tommaso d'Apice, Martyn Thomas
Loughborough travel to Jersey for their final pre-season run out ahead of the new National 1 season.
Having lost to Jersey in the National 2 playoff final in 2010/11, the Students then faced Jersey again in a pre-season friendly ahead of the 2011/12 season, Jersey RFC once again prevailing.
That season saw both sides gain promotion, Jersey RFC to the Championship and the Students to National 1.
Jersey Ticket Update
Tickets to Jersey RFC home games can now be booked in advance by phone and collected pre-match on Friday evenings or match day from 12 noon.
Match tickets cannot be sent to UK addresses, as such transactions would lead to a requirement to levy VAT.
Those without tickets can still pay by cash on the day as the gates open at 12noon and the allocation for away fans will be held until 1pm, after which all remaining tickets will be placed on general sale.
Juniors aged 13-16, £3
12 and under free - proof-of-age may be required.
Up to 1,000 tickets will be reserved for away supporters for each home game and are available immediately for advance purchase over the phone.
Open 10am to 1pm on Tuesday, Thursday & Friday
Tel: 07797 9315
Jersey RFC Ticket Information www.jrfc.je/match-day-tickets
On a perfect night for running rugby Saints and Moseley served up some great entertainment for the two thousand supporters who made their way to the Gardens for the last home pre-season match of the summer.
Although the end result of this match was a comfortable win for the Saints, the first half was a close-fought affair.
Match Report www.northamptonsaints.co.uk
Dean Richards’ has made seven changes ahead of his first game in charge Of Newcastle Falcons at Ulster tonight
Richards also made his first media appearance as Falcons director of rugby at the Championship launch at Twickenham on Tuesday
Jonny Golding starts in the front-row following a bout of flu while Will Welch returns as captain after recovering from a back injury and James Hudson comes into the second row.
Rory Lawson is handed his first start at scrum-half with Suka Hufanga, Tom Catterick and Alex Tait all given a chance to impress in the backline.
“Ulster will be a tough test and we will have to be at our very best if we are to come away with a result,” said Richards.
“We have had three good pre-season results but again you never know how much the other teams are putting into it or which way they are looking.
“So for us it is all about preparation for the first league game and getting that right, then we will see what happens.
15 Luke Fielden, 14 Alex Tait, 13 Suka Hufanga, 12 Tane Tu’ipulotu, 11 Tom Catterick
10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Rory Lawson
1 Jonny Golding, 2 Rob Vickers, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 4 Carlo del Fava
5 James Hudson, 6 Chris York, 7 Will Welch (c), 8 Ally Hogg
16 Matt Thompson, 17 Grant Shiells, 18 James Hall, 19 Scott MacLeod
20 Richard Mayhew, 21 Chris Pilgrim, 22 Waisea Luveniyali, RES Taiasina Tu’ifua
RES Sean Tomes, RES James Fitzpatrick, RES Jamie Helleur, RES Jamie Sole
J Payne, M Allen, C Farrell, L Marshall, C Gilroy, P Jackson, M Heaney
C Black, R Herring, D Fitzpatrick, J Muller (c), L Stevenson, R Diack
M McComish, N Williams;
N Annett, N Brady, R Lutton, J Afoa, A Macklin, N McComb, A Birch, S Doyle, B McIlroy, N O’Connor, P Nelson, C Cochrane,
Leicester Tigers v Nottingham
Saturday 25th August
Kick Off 3pm
This annual clash between the East Midlands rivals always provides a great spectacle for both sets of supporters and is a good benchmark of where the respective teams are in their preparations.
It will be the first time that Nottingham have travelled to Leicester since 2007, with the interceding matches having been at Meadow Lane, and it is a challenge that new Nottingham Head Coach Martin Haag is looking forward to.
“Matches against the Tigers are always something to look forward to. They are one of the biggest clubs in world rugby with a top class set-up that all clubs would aspire to replicate. It will be a great test for the squad to see where they are following their pre-season preparations, “said Haag.
“All of the lads know that there are places up for grabs for that first match against Leeds Carnegie on 31st August, so performing well at Welford Road will give myself and the other coaches some selection headaches.”
Nottingham go into the match with a few players still out with injuries. David Jackson is just recovering from an Achilles injury, while Jack Cobden and Andrew Savage are also out. These injuries have seen new signing Rory Lynn thrown straight in at Full Back against his old club.
Haag continued, “Rory’s come in and done well. He’s never played at Full Back before but he’s looked good there in training and he has the right attitude in doing what the team needs him to do. He’s coming up against his old team so he’ll want to show them what they’ve let go.”
1. Matt Parr, 2. Joe Duffey, 3. Michael Holford, 4. Joe Quinn, 5. Rupert Cooper
6. Brent Wilson (c), 7. Tom Calladine, 8. Alex Shaw
9. Sean Romans, 10. James Arlidge, 11. Rhys Crane, 12. Joe Munro
13. Tim Streather, 14. Ryan Hough, 15. Rory Lynn
16. Scott Wright, 17. Ryan Bower, 18. Morgan Robinson Eames, 19. Phil Eggleshaw
20. Matt Shields, 21. Finlay Barnham, 22. David Priest, 23. Joe Cobden, 24. Jack Bradford
Other News From Nottingham
Nottingham Rugby have signed promising fly-half Rory Lynn . Lynn, a 19-year-old former Derby and Matlock protégé from Ashbourne, makes the move across the East Midlands from the Leicester Tigers Academy to strengthen the Green and White options at Number 10.
After four years with the Aviva Premiership giants, Lynn has made the choice to follow the likes of Joe Cobden and Finlay Barnham to Nottingham in the search of first team rugby.
Lynn got his first taste of action for the Green and Whites in their narrow defeat to London Irish and made a good impression as he pitted his wits against England fly-half Shane Geraghty.
Nottingham Head Coach Martin Haag commented, “Rory has come in and made a good impression straight away. He controlled the game against Irish with a maturity you don’t see in many 19 year olds and that was very impressive.
It’s good to have that extra competition in the squad as it keeps everyone on their toes and performing to the best of their ability. I’m excited to see how he develops throughout the season.”
Warriors Coach Richard Hill hands youth the chance to impress in his Development team to face Albion at Sixways Stadium tonight
Summer signing Rob O'Donnell will pack down in a front row that also contains George Porter –formerly of Albion - while Matt Kvesic will captain the team from the back row.
Hill said: "A number of our younger players have grasped the chance to impress during the pre-season campaign and many of them are now handed starts against Plymouth to once again showcase their talents.
Although Worcester are putting out a youthfull ‘Development Team’ tonight, Albion DOR, Nat Saumi says whatever team they put out its still a Premiership team,"
Speaking to the Hearld Saumi.said "Personally I would like them to put their first team out just so that we can measure where we are. That way we can work on whatever lessons we learn from there and take it into the Championship."
Albion have been firm favourites in their previous four matches, but they will definitely be underdogs this evening.
"Underdogs is a good tag to have," he said. "You go there and you never know. If you win it is a bonus. But this week is all about effort, rather than the result.
Full Story www.thisisdevon.co.uk
15 Ben Howard, 14 Josh Watkins, 13 Max Stelling, 12 Jack Wardle,
11 Joe Nellany, 10 Tom Carlisle, 9 Ollie Frost
1 George Porter, 2 Antonio Harris, 3 Rob O'Donnell, 4 Ed Taylor, 5 Nile Dacres
6 Andrew Boyce, 7 Matt Kvesic (c), 8 Dan Youngs
Jack Cosgrove, Ryan Furniss, James Currie, Tom Richmond, Will Brock
Jake Pratley, Stephan Shillingford, Iolo Evans, Huw Thomas
Slade; McAtee, Fisilau, Armitage, Bowen
Roberts, Rowley; Cowan-Dickie, Vickers, Fairbrother
Tovey, Beukeboom; Stupple, Hocking, Carpenter
Cushion, Arnott, Beridge, Warner, Andrew
Salter, Morton, Ascroft-Leigh, A N Other.
Titans go into this final pre-season match content with the progress that the squad has made to date.
Following three victories and one defeat so far in their preparations, Titans Head Coach Andre Bester is still experimenting with various combinations as he attempts to gel a new squad of players together.
Looking ahead to the Saracens game Andre Bester said, “We haven’t played a first team so far this season and we are trying to get to a phase where we know which is our best squad of players and which are the best combinations to start with. We know we have to rotate this year.
“I was very happy with our workout against Worcester but there were three aspects of our game that was not up to scratch and those three aspects resulted in 50 points against us. However, we’ve addressed that this week and we’ve addressed our cohesion. We know our cohesion will get better and we will be looking at that this week against Saracens.
“Saracens is an exceptional club and they have an exceptional set-up, they are one of the best in world rugby. But when we go onto the pitch we can’t give them too much respect, we need to get stuck into them and remember all men have only two legs and two arms.
Sometimes it courage and determination that makes things work for you."
Full Story www.rotherhamrugby.co.uk
15 Mike Whitehead, 14 Peter Homan, 13 Lee Blackett, 12 Garry Law
11 Eamonn Sheridan, 10 James McKinney, 9 Jimmy Williams
1 Jamie Kilbane, 2 Dan Baines, 3 Gareth Denman, 4 Barney Maddison
5 Neale Patrick, 6 Alex Rieder, 7 Toby Freeman, 8 Rory Pitman.