Morning everyone and welcome back to a brand-new season and a new chapter in Barnstaple Rugby’s long history. I thought I would bring the blog back to a Saturday morning to give you something to read with your breakfast and it also gives me a chance to change anything at the last minute and to be honest there is always something to change at the last possible moment so I’m limiting the hiccups as much as possible. The team sheet will still be going out on social media on a Friday night so don’t worry.
Now when I say long history I mean it as this season, if fact in 2 weeks’ time when the Chiefs play Hinckley here at Pottington Road, the Colts will be celebrating their 100th year, more on that nearer the time but for now these new chapters firstly see the Chiefs with a new head coach in Winston James who accepted the offer following Brynn Jenkins decision to step down from the post after a very successful time at the helm and we wish him well for the future and thanks for the many great memories. What Brynn has done is leave Winston with a very youthful team full of potential as we have happily retained most of the squad from last season, who have already experienced what playing at this level is all about and are ready to take it up a notch, so exciting times ahead and at the very least the prospect of some exciting rugby here at Pottington Road in the coming weeks and months as the season gets underway.
Not only the Chiefs but also Athletic embark on a change of pace for them as they begin their campaign in the Counties 2 Tribute Devon league for the first time, against several old favourites they have battled with so often over the years in the merit table but also some new faces such as Torquay and South Molton. The new head coach to take on this task is none other than Luke Berry who has his work cut out not only to make this squad ready to take on the challenges of playing in a competitive league for the first time, but also to prepare many of them for the step up to first team rugby with the Chiefs. Luke will not just have a number of regular faces to work with but several of last seasons Colts who so nearly won the Devon Colts cup last season and will be eager to get stuck into senior rugby.
As for the Colts this season is a special one for them and I expect head coach Lewis Joce will want something special from his team this time round as they celebrate their 100th anniversary this season, just two weeks away in fact. The Bucc’s now have a much fuller calendar of games this season having reformed last season for the first time in awhile and I offer my apologies but the website is a tad behind in being updated with all our teams fixtures and as yet I haven’t had chance to get the Bucc’s page up and running but rest assured it will be in the next week or two but in the meantime I can tell you their first home game is on 24th September at 2.30pm where they take on Exeter Saracens II and as always it will be a great spectacle to watch and a big day as Barnstaple Athletic will also be playing the Exeter Saracens 1st XV that day so make sure you book it in your diaries.
Before we get to today’s game just a quick announcement for those who are attending the game today, please be aware that the volunteers have been working extremely hard to get the grandstand back into shape for the season with some of the seating removed for the review of its structural steelwork which has not yet finished, however the front two rows of seats on the right hand side are usable and will be reserved for those that have difficulty climbing the steps so if you can be considerate and if able please sit further up into the grandstand and allow others less able to enjoy the seated area especially with the rain forecast this Saturday.
Now to today’s National 2 West season opener sponsored today by Phillips, Smith and Dunn, and a very difficult start to the season for the Chiefs as they face last season’s South West Premier champions Exeter Uni. Of course, we last meet Exeter Uni here at Pottington Road for the first time 2 seasons back, on our way to that very same title in October 2019, in that game the Chiefs were winners 36-16 but that was a whole world apart from the current Exeter Uni team who last season amassed an impressive 116 points winning 23 of their 26 games and are a very different team from 2019.
For the Chiefs, who still have 6 players who started that match, playing today, have a wealth of youngsters that have graduated to the Chiefs since then and have already impressed at National 2 gaining some much-valued experience at this level. So today’s game will be interesting at the very least to see how both teams have progressed since that meeting and could promise to be a very entertaining game of rugby from two youthful teams looking to get a great start to the season.
The Chiefs though haven’t had the sort pre-season they would have liked with the blistering heat stalling a much anticipated game with Exmouth and then last weekend Okehampton unable to put together a team to give the Chiefs a much needed run out, but the game at Launceston giving the squad 20 minutes against both the Cornish all blacks and Maidenhead helped to brush off any ring rust there might have been and the game against Brixham helped put the team through its paces and gained the coaches some much need insight into how the squad is shaping up, so the Chiefs should be ready and raring to get out here and show us what they hope to achieve this season, against a very good opponent that have high expectations themselves this season. Here then is the Chiefs team to face Exeter Uni.
Athletic begin their campaign at Withycombe which for those who might not know is just outside Exmouth. This will be a season with many unknowns for the Tic’s but with Luke Berry as their head coach they should be able to navigate some tricky waters to come out of this season in a very handy position. They will certainly be in good shape having trained hard over the summer. Next weekend will see Athletics first home fixture of the season and a chance to exact some revenge on Ivybridge Vandals who they lost to back in April. Kick off for that match will be 2.30pm. Here then is Athletics team to face Withycombe.
Talking of Bonuses now is a very good time to grab yourself a season ticket. The club have kept them at the same price as last season but with the added benefit that it includes free entry to all of Athletics league games this season, 2 teams for the price of one. Just ask for John Sloley when you get to the ground or go to the membership page here on this site.
In addition you will also be eligible for International tickets for the Autumn internationals which see’s England take on the New Zealand All Blacks amongst others and the 6 Nations. However it has to be noted that despite the interest in next year’s Rugby World Cup in France which is gathering pace. This is to inform you all that tickets for this event will not managed/allocated in the same manner as other International tickets. In other words you WILL NOT be able to purchase tickets though the club.
Instead, tickets and bespoke travel packages will be available via the following link:
Finally for the Bucc’s and the Colts no games this weekend and in fact it is not until the 24th September for the Bucc’s who will face Exeter Saracens II here at 2.30pm, while the Colts have to wait until October 15th for their first home game.
Good luck to both the Chiefs and Athletic and let’s grab a double win bonus and get this new season of to a flying start