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We are grateful to Jon Newcombe and The Rugby Paper for permission to display the following, the words as recently printed in an edition of The Rugby Paper. Besides the three Pirates selected in the Dream Team, there are several other past and present ‘Pirate’ mentions.
The Championship Dream Team is unique in that it is based on votes from the league’s coaching teams. This year Saracens players were not considered for selection.
RFU CHAMPIONSHIP 2021 DREAM TEAM
It says a lot about the reputation the Championship has as a finishing school for tight forwards that all three of this year’s Dream Team front-row have secured moves to Premiership clubs.
Wasps-bound duo, loose-head Robin Hislop and hooker Dan Frost will be joined in the topflight next season by Cornish Pirates tight-head and new Worcester tight-head signing, Jay Tyack.
Whilst the Pirates have had plenty of Dream Team hookers in their time (Vili Ma’asi, Dave Ward and Sam Matavesi), Tyack is the first prop to get the vote since Nick Adams in 2006.
With Danny Cutmore locking down alongside Ealing’s Bobby de Wee, Pirates have three players in the Dream Team pack for the first time since it was first published in 2004, testament to the work of co-head coach Alan Paver.
With Saracens not considered for selection, Ealing players dominate the Dream Team. A third of the line-up comes from the ranks of the beaten finalists with de Wee joined in the forwards by the irrepressible Rayn Smid.
Sam Graham of Doncaster and Coventry’s Ryan Burrows make up the well-balanced back row. Burrows equals Gavin Cattle’s record of five Dream Team appearances. His first inclusion came at blindside a decade ago whilst playing for Rotherham with the rest at No.8. Had the Yorkshireman not spent two seasons in the Premiership at Newcastle, it’s likely he would have set a new benchmark by now.
The two Craigs, Hampson and Willis, form an all-Ealing half-back partnership, whilst the classy Max Bodilly takes the 13 jersey, outside of Hartpury’s Jimmy Williams in midfield. Williams is the first Hartpury player to get in the Championship Dream Team.
Meanwhile, Doncaster duo, Kyle Evans and Jack Spittle, flank Bedford’s Rich Lane in the back three. Lane retains his spot having been selected in the last Dream Team in 2019.
Back to his best and a key man in Bedford’s counter attacking game. Can rip defences apart with his elusive running but does the nuts and bolts of full-back play well, too. Scott van Breda of Jersey Reds ran him close. His second time in the Dream Team having last appeared in 2019.
The reverse of ‘second-season syndrome’ applied to the barnstorming Welshman who put an injury-hit first campaign at the Knights behind him to become a serious handful for opposition defenders with his power and pace. All the remaining votes were shared widely.
Relishing the regular game time he is getting in the Ealing midfield after escaping from the shadow of Henry Slade and Ollie Devoto at Exeter, the Cornishman strung together a number of man-of-the-match performances. Elijah Niko’s strong season for Bedford did not go unnoticed.
Brings his playmaker skills to a position where brute force normally wins the day. Ultra-consistent all season and even slotted in at fly-half on a couple of occasions. Jersey’s Dan Barnes was also in the mix in a position where nobody was head and shoulders above the rest.
Retains his place from last year but with a different club. Only started six games after an injury-disrupted start to the season, but still managed to score four tries, including a brilliant effort against Saracens. A natural-born finisher who has become a more complete winger in the short time he has been at Donny. Nottingham youngster Joe Browning and James Cordy-Redden were also mentioned in dispatches.
A Premiership-quality playmaker with all the skills and seemingly all the time in the world such is his composure on the ball. Shaded out Doncaster’s Sam Olver for the coveted No.10 spot.
An experienced operator who is busy and efficient at the base of the scrum. Must be doing something right to keep Jordan Burns on the bench and was way ahead of the rest. It’s his second time in the Dream Team after getting the nod in 2014 whilst with Yorkshire Carnegie.
‘Bomber’ returned to Castle Park after a short loan spell with Saracens and cemented his reputation as the best loose-head in the Championship by some distance. His strong scrummaging and ability in the loose have earned him back-to-back Dream Team selections, and also a close-season move to Wasps.
Won the vote hands down after a superb campaign in the middle of the Pirates’ front row. A hat-trick scorer against Hartpury, Frost crossed the line seven times in total as well as impressing in the set-piece. Off to Wasps this summer.
A destructive scrummager with a huge work-rate. Impressed in the Pirates’ opening day win over Saracens and has earned himself a Premiership deal with Worcester. Honourable mentions go to Joe Jones and Elliot Millar-Mills.
A prototype South African loose forward who never yields an inch and more often than not wins the physical battle. A fearsome competitor who gives a hard edge to the Ealing pack.
A seriously good lineout operator who can also put it about in the loose. Has just completed his third season at the Pirates having previously come through the Saracens academy. Team-mate Josh Caulfield was also in contention for one of the lock spots.
Proving as impossible to shift from the Dream Team as he is over the ball. Played No.8 but is equally at home on the blindside – his position in the 2019 line-up. Another campaign where he led by example. Started 12 of the 13 games and finished as the league’s top try-scorer with nine.
Classic fetcher and carrier who arrived at Doncaster from Bristol. Has put himself back in the shop window for a return to the Premiership with some quality displays. Guy Thompson, Alex Humfrey and Joe Bercis were also in the frame in the back row.
Half of the available votes went to the Coventry powerhouse who has now made it into the Dream Team five times – an unprecedented achievement for a forward and only matched by former Cornish Pirates scrum-half turned coach, Gavin Cattle. Burrows went back-to-back at No.8 for Yorkshire Carnegie in 2016 and 2017 and has repeated the feat for Cov’ after moving there from Newcastle. His first selection was at blindside some 10 years ago. Still gets over the gain line at will and provides real leadership at the back of the Cov’ pack.
Photo credit Brian Tempest.