RFU Championship News

Friday 5th

5th August  2011


RFU Championship News Friday 5th August 2011


Bedford Blues player/coach Nick Walshe has joined the RFU Elite Rugby Department as a National Academy Coach.

Walshe, 36, who joined Bedford in 2008 from Bath, will assist with the England Under 20 squad alongside Head Coach Rob Hunter. 

Bedford Blues Director of Rugby Mike Rayer said: "Everyone at the club is delighted for Nick and we wish him well for the future.

He will be sorely missed by all of us here at Goldington Rd not just as a player and coach but also as a person as well. He has added huge value here on and off the field and developed a lot good players over the last three years.  

"Our loss is the RFU’s gain and I’ve no doubt that he will do an outstanding job nurturing the next generation of England Internationals. 

"Nick has developed as a coach extremely well since he joined us and it is a tribute to the Championship that he has been recognised for this role. This competition is proving to be a springboard not just for players but also for coaches.” 

Full Story www.bedfordrugby.co.uk

Bristol Rugby

Bristol Rugby’s players are itching for the new RFU Championship campaign to get underway, according to Rhys Lawrence.

The hooker, who signed from Llanelli Scarlets during the summer, is likely to feature in Bristol’s opening pre-season fixture versus Biarritz on Friday 12 August.

“I’m really looking forward to playing again,” said the 23 year-old. “There’s a buzz around the place and everybody is in good spirits. We’ve been working hard on the training ground for eight weeks in preparation so we cannot wait to get back out on the pitch and getting into pre-season.”

Lawrence, who made ten competitive appearances for Llanelli Scarlets last year, believes the Club’s supporters can expect to see some exciting rugby from Liam Middleton's side:

“Bristol’s a great club and the mood is good, but we won’t take anything for granted. We’re focused on the challenge that lies ahead and I think that we will play some really entertaining rugby in the process.

With so much pace in the side, we’ll be looking to offload out of contact, be dynamic in attack and finish teams off with a clinical, expansive style of play.

“On a personal level, I just want to keep improving and working on my weaknesses. I’ll work as hard as I possibly can for the team. I enjoy a tackle as well so hopefully I’ll be putting a few big hits in this season!"


Cornish Pirates

Pirates centre Tom Cooper is looking to the path carved by Matt Hopper as his inspiration to put an injury plagued season behind him and move on to better times in English rugby.

Cooper, 24, spent last season with Newport Gwent Dragons but a series of injuries limited him to only a handful of first team opportunities. And like Hopper, who sustained a serious ankle injury before rekindling his career in a one season stay at the Mennaye Field and earning a move to the Premiership with Harlequins, Cooper believes he has so much more to show.

He explained: "Seeing what Matt Hopper has done in coming through the University system to where he is now has really inspired me. So first things first, get on and make a good impression, get a regular starting shirt, and help the boys to progress onto the Premiership from there."

Now all Cooper has to do is secure a starting berth in the Pirates backs during the coming Championship season but he is unfazed by the competition around him.

He said: "I think we have got six or seven centres here now with the dual-reg boys so there will certainly be some physical training sessions.

"But the rotation system here seems quite egalitarian and means that everyone will get their opportunity. It's up to you whether or not you take it."

Meanwhile, Pirates full-back Rob Cook admits he is feeling the pressure to keep his place in the team as the new season approaches – but is relishing the challenge.

The 27-year-old has been a prolific scoring machine for the Pirates since arriving from Nuneaton two years ago, and amassed 361 points in 29 matches for the Championship club last season.

With new signings Ceiron Thomas and David Doherty all capable of wearing the number 15 shirt, along with Wes Davies, Grant Pointer and Rhodri McAtee, Cook knows that he will have to be on top of his game to keep the jersey.

He said: "It does put pressure on me but I'm really looking forward to this year, to be honest.

"We've improved over each of the last two years and had a bit of success as well, but this year I think there will be a lot of pressure on us both individually and as a team.

I just want to play as many games as I can, even though some of the new boys are really going to push me."

Full Story www.thisiscornwall.co.uk

Doncaster Knights

Knights’ fans will get their first glimpse of their new-look side in tonight’s first pre-season game against Hull at Castle Park.

“All the players, except those who are still recovering from injuries last season will get a run-out tonight,” said director of rugby Brett Davey.

“We’ll pick a team to play the first half and then we’ll make changes in the second half but because of the numbers some people might have to play the full 80, which will be beneficial in terms of match fitness.

“I’m happy with the state of the fitness. The players have been training four times a week and fitness and conditioning coach Paul Devlin has done a good job and the players have all bought into what we are trying to do.

“We are exactly, or even slightly ahead, of where we wanted to be with a month to go before the start of the season.

Full Story www.thestar.co.uk


Esher 15 - Ealing 24
Tuesday 2nd August

From the first whistle, the match was played at a frenetic pace and with real physical intensity as all players looked to lay down a marker for the season ahead. From Esher's perspective, it was a chance to look at a host of new players and tinker positionally with the few guys who had donned the club shirt before.

Ealing looked the more composed side at the start and got two early scores as Esher's youngsters eventually found their feet and with it, some rhythm.

As the game wore on and Esher started to settle, Mike Macfarlane scored two tries in a barnstorming performance. Another new addition to the squad, Andy Wright, scored a fantastic solo effort, handing off a defender before going in at the corner

The moment of the match, and what would have been a contender for the best try ever scored at Molesey Road, saw a further new signing, and new club favourite, Sam Edgerley receive the ball deep in his own dead ball area.

He outstripped the on-rushing defenders before flinging a long pass out to the opposite flank where Joe Brown made an angled run into centre-field and offloaded. The ball interchanged with a further 6 players as play progressed up-field. It appeared that Brown had managed to get on the end of the move and the crowd held their breath only for the referee to state that the ball had been held up.


Leeds Carnegie

Leeds army training camp stepped up a gear on Tuesday with a gruelling scrummage session for the forwards.

The afternoon session was an Army lead 'Burden' run which they do every Thursday. It involves carrying items of kit - tyres, water can, poles and a oil drum, over a course of 2.5km per lap.

The boys were split into 3 groups to race, with an outstanding effort from all in particular Craig Hampson and Jacob Rowan. Young guns Ollie Richards and Pete Lucock looked strong.

Danny Paul did the course on his bike providing quality H2O and encouragement. Gaz Denman was struggling that much from the morning sickness he was cramping all the way round and actually ran a full lap straight legged!!! Great effort - day two done!

Full Story www.leedscarnegie.com

London Scottish

Scottish have signed Scotland 7s star Mike Adamson.

The former Glasgow Warriors player first represented Scotland sevens in December 2006 in the Dubai tournament which kicked off that season's IRB World Series. In the subsequent tournament in George, South Africa, he scored half of Scotland's 60 points with four tries and five conversions and finished that season with 173 Series points for the Scots.

He played in four of the IRB 2008/09 World Series tournaments and in March 2009 was in a member of the Plate-winning Scotland squad the Rugby World Cup sevens. Mike has also represented his country at under-18A, under-19 and under-21 levels.

Simon Amor sees Adamson's signing as a real boost to the London Scottish squad:

"Mike has come on board as a very high quality utility back. He has played at a very high level, and provides an excellent running threat to the opposition.

Mike is an excellent decision maker on the pitch, and brings a great kicking game too. He is able to play in a number of key positions, and will enable us to continue with our aim of providing stiff competition for places in all roles."


Plymouth Albion

Albion will give 11 new faces the chance to impress on Sunday when they open their pre-season campaign with an away match at Redruth (3pm).

Full-back Jack Nowell, wingers Mick McGrath and Tyson Lewis, centre Paul Bailey, fly-half Rob Avery-Wright, scrum-half Dale Farnham, prop Rob Dugard, hooker Davy McGregor, lock Addison Lockley and back-row forwards Dan Lee and Herbie Stupple will all start at The Recreation Ground.

Fellow new faces Paul Rowley, Henry Slade, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Jon Vickers and James Harris are also named among the replacements.

"We are just keen to give some of the new guys at the club some game time, so we are grateful for this fixture," said chairman of rugby Graham Dawe.

The inexperienced team will be captain by the highley experienced Wayne Sprangle, who along with Cameron Mitchell and David Morton are the only regular first team players from last season included this weekend.

Albion have four pre-season fixtures currently pencilled in and Dawe says the plan is to give everyone the chance to impress over the next month.

"Hopefully by the time we have played Neath on August 27 everyone will have had at least one game," said Dawe.

15 Jack Nowell, 14 Mick McGrath, 13 Cameron Mitchell, 12 Paul Bailey, 11 Tyson Lewis
10 Rob Avery-Wright, 9 Dale Farnham, 1 David Morton, 2 Davy McGregor, 3 Rob Dugard
4 Mark Manton, 5 Addison Lockley, 6 Dan Lee, 7 Wayne Sprangle (capt), 8 Herbie Stupple.

Paul Rowley, Henry Slade, Steve Johns, Luke Cowan-Dickie
Jon Vickers, Owain Lloyd, James Harris.


In other news, Albion's new winger Tyson Lewis is determined to repay the club's faith in him.

Lewis joined Albion this summer from National Division One side Blackheath.

But the 26-year-old could have moved to Brickfields last year.

Lewis played in two pre-season matches for the club last August and was offered a short-term deal just before the 2010/11 league campaign started, however, he opted to stay in London where he had a good job at a school and continue to play for Blackheath.

"The circumstances behind my move (last year) just weren't right and we had to put it off for a little bit," Lewis told Herald Sport.

"But it has happened now. It has taken a while, but I am here and, hopefully, I can do a job.

"I have got another bite at the cherry, as they say, and, hopefully, I can repay the club for giving me another opportunity to play here."

He added: "It is going well so far.

"I expected it to be intense here and I have not been disappointed.

"I am feeling a lot fitter and I am just raring to go now.

"I want to play a match now, instead of running around doing fitness."

"However, I am not going to say I am going to score a certain amount of tries. I will just try and get over that line whenever I can."

Lewis had planned to practice law, but he has delayed that idea for a while to concentrate on rugby.

"That is on the back burner for another year," he said.

"We'll just see how this season in the Championship goes.

"If it goes well, I'll just keeping putting it off. I can do law anytime. I have got the qualification, but rugby is different."

Full Story www.thisisdevon.co.uk

Rotherham Titans

New recruit Semisi Taulava is loving being at Rotherham and believes consistency will be a key factor in the Titans having a successful season.

Semisi said, "If we can consistently perform to what we believe we are capable of, then I think we can surprise a few teams and give the supporters a very good season.

If at times we take a fall we need to get back up quickly and show people what we are about. I'm confident that we can do well this year, all the players have bought in to what the club wants to achieve."

The 28 year-old big Tongan is relishing the challenge of being part of, what he believes are exciting times ahead for the club.

Semisi is no stranger to challenges he left his home at just 15 to take up a rugby scholarship in Wanganui, New Zealand. After spending 3 years at the college he was picked up by local NPC 2nd division side Wanganui.

Then in 2005 he moved to Taranaki in the NPC 1st division, however in early 2007 he suffered a serious neck injury which saw him out of the game for two years.

One doctor told Semisi there was a good chance he would not be able play rugby again! Semisi recalls, "This was the lowest time of my life, there was many tears shed in that tough and difficult period."

But through dedication and hard work he was rewarded with the news he had been dreaming of, Semisi recalls, "I even remember the date, June 14 2009, thats when I got the all clear to play rugby again, I was so relieved and so happy!"

With a new lease of life about him, Semisi decided he wanted a new start and a fresh challenge. That saw him arrive in the UK on Christmas day 2009 and he played for Worthing for the remainder of the 09-10 season.

The following season with a number of Championship teams seeking his services, he decided to join his best friend from his younger days in Tonga, Leo Halavatua at Birmingham, believing it would make the transition to Championship rugby easier.

However it was a difficult season for Semisi, as he explained, "It was tough at Bees as I was played out of position in the 2nd row, and I'd never played that position before. But I'm a pretty loyal guy for whatever team I play for, I'm one of those guys that would cut his hand for the team, so I just gave my best in that position."

But when Rotherham came knocking on his door this year, he jumped at the opportunity and explained his reasons for joining the Clifton Lane outfit,

"The club is very ambitious and Andres got a vision of where he wants to take Rotherham. I'm an Islander and we are a very loyal bunch, we need someone to crack the whip and Andre is really good at doing that.

We like having a taskmaster and we follow and I want to be part of whats happening at Rotherham."

And so far he has no regrets about his move, Semisi added,

"It couldnt be going any better at the moment we are loving it here, the old cliche about the people making the place is so true, the people in Rotherham have been so lovely to us, they have made us feel extremely welcome, I cant speak highly enough about how wonderful the people of Rotherham have been."