Old Prop Steve serializes the story of the two seasons commencing with the 2009/10 season.
Including the winning of the B&I Cup, the challenge of building up the squad, the move back to the Mennaye, the quest for the Stadium for Cornwall and progress to the 2011 Championship Final.
New Zealander Chris Stirling had made a brief exploratory visit to Cornwall in the autumn of 2008, ostensibly to advise the Pirates regarding the controversial Experimental Law Variations.
Moseley provided the season’s first competitive opposition at Camborne. The Pirates TV cameras were there to capture some thrilling running and nine spectacular tries against the bemused midlanders.
New Year’s Day saw the team return to Bristol’s Memorial Ground where the Pirates had pulled off a sensational victory on their last visit five years earlier.
Munster…. now there is a rugby name to conjure with.
As the old season had drawn to a close, attention had turned once again to who was staying, who was leaving and - most importantly - who the coaching team had brought in. Jimmy Moore had already left several weeks before the season ended, reportedly to return to Lancashire and an accountancy career.
“If It’s On – It’s On”
Chris Stirling had coined the phrase “If it’s on – it’s on” to give his players licence to attack whenever they felt a chance presented itself.
He also sought a greater degree of consistency from his team. This had to be achieved despite a commitment to rotating his squad in order to keep everyone both fresh and involved.
From Bees to the Play Offs
Birmingham Solihull had been trying to sell their undeveloped old ground at Sharmans Cross for several years and had at last decamped to Damson Park - the home of a local football team.
To be honest it was nothing to write home about either but at least it had excellent floodlights and what turned out to be a very playable pitch.
The Play Offs
The playoffs again comprised the top eight teams but this time with three initial bonus points awarded to the first two (Worcester and Bedford), two to third and fourth (Pirates and London Welsh) and one to fifth and sixth (Nottingham and Doncaster).
So it was a bit like starting a Formula One race on the second row of the starting grid.
The Play Off Finals
The Worcester website was full of foreboding. The Warriors had seemingly used up all their ‘get-out-of-jail’ cards in their narrow squeak with Bedford in the semi-final and needed no reminder of the fact that the Pirates had turned them over at Sixways in the autumn.
Nevertheless, with their large and battle hardened pack of forwards, the experience of the likes of Goode and Rasmussen in the backs added to the pace out wide of Benjamin and Garvey, Worcester were clearly going to be odds-on favourites over the two legs.