Welcome to another pre match blog and as we get ever nearer to the close of the season then the speculations become more prominent as to what will happen about the leagues next season and more importantly who will be in ours and we can shed some light on that this week, of course it isn’t complete until the season finishes to see who goes up or down but we can take an educated guess and there will be more on that later. Before that we have two games to concern ourselves with and this weekend at Pottington Road we see Barnstaple Athletic at home to face 5th placed Crediton while the Chiefs take a trip to Oxfordshire to face Henley.
Before we begin though we would just like to thank all those supporters that contributed to the repairs for the Windows that were senselessly vandalised and smashed, for their generous donations and in particular the very significant contributions from Barnstaple and District Round Table as well as Tim Hickman of Wright Commercial who together with your support have helped us get enough for the repairs to be undertaken so again thank you all.
Now to some club news and first on the agenda is a very busy day on Easter Saturday next weekend when Barnstaple Chiefs are at home to Hinckley for the very first time, we are offering our supporters the chance to be a part of the first BRFC match day carvery. We have limited seating and it will be on a first come first served basis! It is £15 per person and you’ll need to contact firstname.lastname@example.org or come down this Saturday and book your place at the bar.
It’s due to be a very busy day as well next Saturday from a playing side as we begin with some junior rugby at 12pm with both the U12’s and U13’s having games against their respective age groups from both Hinckley and Tunbridge Wells. Finally if you would like tickets for the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final at Twickenham on Saturday 18 June then contact Verity White at email@example.com.
Lastly There is still room on the supporters bus travelling to Kingsbridge for the Colts Devon Cup Final on Sunday 24th April. Leaving at 12. £10 per head. If you would like a seat please let Verity White know again at firstname.lastname@example.org and pay ASAP I will let you have payment details. No seat is confirmed until payment has been received
At Pottington Road we have Athletic at home to face Crediton looking to regain some composure following two consecutive defeats at Exmouth and here at home to Ivybridge, kick off is at 2.30pm. Crediton will be good opposition for Athletic even if the Merit table is now out of their hands with only two games left to play and seven points separating them from leaders Ivybridge. Crediton are currently 5th and Athletic will want to go out on a high against both Crediton this Saturday and Sidmouth in two weeks’ time.
Now to the Chiefs who travel today to Oxfordshire to face a Henley side that have slipped to 6th place in the league thanks to losing their last three games including a 24-27 loss at home to Rochford two weeks ago. Even so this is a tough game for the Chiefs and they will need to take the performance they showed last weekend to Henley to get anything out of this one. When these two met at Pottington Road last December Henley showed just how tough their defence is keeping the Chiefs to just a Sam Roberts try as they won the game 5-26 and they do have the second top try scorer in the league with Rueben Norville who has 16 tries to his name this season and the Chiefs will have to make sure this winger does not get too much ball.
The Chiefs do have three players back in the squad to bolster it with Jake Childs, Martinas Dromantas and Charlie Banefield all returning for this one. Jake Murphy is absent which does mean that Dan Johnson retains his position at centre with Johny Carter returning to the backs after his brief but successful stint as a forward last Saturday, here then is the team to face Henley.
1. George Snell
Sponsored by Paiges Lane Barbers
2. Gav Mitchell
sponsored by Function Fitness
3. Alfie May
Sponsored by DS Carpentry
4. Ben Hilton
sponsored by KAS Crane Hire
5. Arthur Marks
sponsored by Floor Sanding Services
6. Charlie Banfield
7. Ryan Smale
sponsored by Artisani
8. Nat Bayet
sponsored by MLPA Surveyors
9. Josh Pilkington
Sponsored by Ocean Shade, Canopies & Awning
10. Tyler Gordon-Oke
Sponsored by Mount Sandford House
11. Connor Swan
12. Dan Johnson
Sponsored by Tom Johnson Decorators
Sponsored by Fields farm shop and Butchery
14. Will Topps
Sponsored by Barricane Solutions
Sponsored by Access an Area
16. Dominic Robson
Sponsored by Harry’s Cafe
17. Jake Childs
sponsored by SITIM Solutions
Sponsored by Brewer, Harding and Rowe
19. Ross Swales
Sponsored by Edd’s Greengrocers
20. Luke Berry
Sponsored by Ian Baker
Finally, as promised here is a brief but incomplete look at what will happen next season as I know many of you have been speculating about who we might be playing in 2022/23. Now remember this is just an educated guess as to how the leagues will shape up taken from the league standing back at the beginning of March and is NOT final as league positions will naturally change from week to week until the end of the season. The provisional league structure is an indication of how things may look in September 2022 so please don’t take this as gospel. The final league structure will be confirmed in May with fixtures for the 2022/23 season hopefully released around mid-June.
Before viewing the provisional league structure, please watch this short video presented by John Inverdale explaining how the leagues have been organised. https://www.englandrugby.com/video/AvVvnluo
As you can see from the video and this diagram we will be travelling north instead of east for the majority of our games with half the league based in or around the Midlands. National 2 is to be split into three leagues of 14 teams so a couple of extra weeks off for the players and a proper Christmas break i do believe. Barnstaple are in National 2A as it is called currently, hopefully they give it a better title. So still plenty of travelling to come and the team will be experts in the nuances of the M5 by the time the season ends. Below is the list of teams that maybe involved with the highlighted one’s to yet be confirmed after the season ends.
Redruth maybe promoted to National 1 although Esher are the current favourites so they might be the last team to make it on this league.
3 Leicester Lions
6 Loughborough St
7 Dings Crusaders
11 ▲Exeter Univ
12 ▲Newport (Salop)
Hopefully that has given you all a bit more information about who we will be facing next season and remember this is just provisional as for example in the South West Premier there are three teams from the South West battling for promotion and with just five points separating them it could be any two out of Exeter Uni, Hornets or Old Redcliffians so still a long way to go but it doesn’t to my mind look likely we will save that much on travelling with plenty of very tough games ahead in pastures new as it looks like we have swapped the South East for the Midlands. Now just to give you one example, by car it will take you four and a half hours to get to Chester for that game so who knows how long the team bus will take. Also think about how those teams in National 2 North must feel that all of a sudden they are now having to travel the hundreds of miles to the west country so I can imagine many of them are not that impressed.
I look forward to what everyone else thinks.
Back to this season though and good luck to the Chiefs and Athletic today and remember.