Welcome everyone to the last National 2 West league fixture of 2022 and before we get started I just would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas for next week and not to forget Boxing day is Derby day when the Chiefs take on their Bideford counterparts here at Pottington Road, kick off is 2pm. Today we of course have Barnstaple chiefs at home to Hornets, however this game is in doubt due to the pitch conditions. When Chair Paul Shaddick and Head Groundsman Trevor Wayborn visited the club at midday today the majority of the ground was still frozen. Now any decision on whether the pitch is fit to play on or not has to be ratified by a suitably qualified RFU official and that will take place at 9am Saturday Morning so keep monitoring the social media pages and the website and we will confirm whether the match between the Chiefs and Hornets takes place.
Despite this though the club have decided that the Christmas dinner should still go ahead no matter what the decision is. They plan to show the European Cup games on the TV and are considering some incentives to encourage as many as possible to come down to the club. If the game is postponed, the players have also agreed to come down for a meet and greet session and to spend some time with our supporters. So again, please keep an eye on the social media posts and this website for more updates as the day unfolds
The Bucc’s and Colts take a breather until the new year, Athletic hit the road to face Exeter Saracens which as far as I know is still on as the temperatures in Exeter are not as low as ours.
In Memory of Ronnie Issac (1941-2022)
It is with sadness that we report the passing of Barnstaple Rugby Club stalwart Ronnie Isaac who died on Saturday the 3rd December aged 81 at the North Devon Hospice after a short illness.
Those who know him may not be aware that he was born in 1941 in Malta during the war and was one of the last civilians to be evacuated by ship as the siege of Malta worsened. Growing up in Barnstaple, Ronnie learnt his rugby in the Barnstaple Boys Secondary Modern School, joining our Club when he left proving to be a talented and very committed scrum half. Ronnie also loved amateur boxing and followed his brother Jim by joining the local boxing club. He proved to be a courageous, aggressive opponent and went on to represent England at Flyweight. Before returning to committee work at our club, where he spent many years as Team Manager, he coached soccer at Abbey Centre, Pilton Centre and Fremington. Ronnie will be fondly remembered as a family man, married to Janet for 59 years leaving a legacy with 5 children, 9 Grandchildren and 13 Great Grandchildren, many of which will be at the Club on Saturday. A colourful character, always busy helping out at the club and his beloved family, will be greatly missed by all who knew him. The funeral will be held at the North Devon Crematorium on Thursday 29th December at 2.20pm. There will be a minute’s silence held on Saturday in memory of a dear friend.
A number of the Tuesday Club volunteers will be taking part in the North Devon Hospice’s Rugby Ramble as a mark of respect to Ron Isaac, who spent a short time at the hospice prior to his passing. All those involved are in the photo below together with Jon Foster of St Austell Brewery. Please give generously for their efforts in the Rugby Ramble to help the North Devon Hospice continue the fantastic care it provides. Details can be found on the following website, https://www.northdevonhospice.org.uk/support-us/events/rugby-ramble/
Chiefs Game last weekend
Last weekend saw the Chiefs travel to Stourbridge which for them was a must win game on two fronts, firstly to help Barnstaple’s league position playing another team in the lower half of the league but also to emphasis and cement that great win and display the Chiefs produced the previous weekend to build upon. They did that really well from what I have been told with a good display of rugby across the team to head back home from the Midlands with a bonus point win 15-31.
The first half looked to have been an evenly fought affair with Stourbridge putting points up early to lead 5-0 but 2 tries in two minutes from Nat Bayet and Tom Clark quickly got the Chiefs ahead where they stayed throughout the first half despite Stourbridge on two further occasions pegging back the visitors lead with Brandon Moore’s try towards the end of the half making it a 15-19 lead for the Chiefs.
The second half Barnstaple must have put in a very strong defensive effort as Stourbridge failed to score any more points while tries from Ashlee Crouch and a second for Nat Bayet secured a bonus point win for Barnstaple with three of the tries converted by Tyler Gordon-Oke.
That, though, was last weekend, this weekend it’s another encounter with a team in the lower reaches of the league, Hornets, and whilst Barnstaple will have plenty of confidence going into this one having secured back to back wins for the first time this season, Hornets also have cause for celebration and confidence following a 17-10 home win against Bournville last Saturday, their first win in four games and with a close 30-25 loss at Dings Crusaders just several weeks ago, the Chiefs have to be mindful of the threat Hornets bring to this game.
I do expect this to be a tightly fought game with both teams on a high but also when these two met back in September it was just a point that separated them at the end, in Barnstaple’s favour following a Jake Murphy converted penalty in the final minute, so you can guarantee the visitors will be eager to avenge that loss, which makes for an enthralling match prospect ahead and if it lives up to the hype will surely be a great game to finish the year on.
With the Return of Jake Murphy the team is relatively unchanged from last week with just a couple of adjustments. Here then is the team to face Hornets providing the game does go ahead.
No game for Athletic last weekend as the weather spoiled what was looking like a really gripping encounter with Exmouth, so that one will be postponed for another day but today they travel to Exeter Saracens to try and regain some momentum. Earlier in the season Athletic faced Exeter Saracens at Pottington Road in a very close contest which they eventually won 26-21, so today’s game will be a big test to see where they stand in the league now we have crossed the halfway point.
In the league Exeter Saracens find themselves directly below Athletic with 5 wins to their name and their thumping 45-5 win over Ivybridge last Saturday shows they are a dangerous team for the Tics to face and a result here would be massive for Athletics season.
There are several changes to the team this weekend with Luke Knight going in at scrum half and Joe Hill starting at full back, here then is the Athletic team travelling to Exeter.
Before we wrap it up a message from our president Trevor Edwards.
A Christmas Message
As Christmas approaches, I would like to wish each and every one of you all a very Merry Christmas and happy New Year.
Looking back at my 2021 message we were still battling against Covid and its restrictions and the message was essentially saying to look after yourself and stay safe. Hopefully we have now passed the terrible effects of Covid. However, a number of people at the club will not have their loved ones around to celebrate the festivities this year. Our heartfelt wishes go out to those who have lost a loved one. With that in mind, whilst we look forward to another exciting year of club rugby, please take time out for loved ones, family and friends who come together to enjoy the Christmas season.
Please travel and holiday safely over the coming weeks. I look forward to meeting up with you all again either on Boxing Day or in 2023.
President Barnstaple RFC
That’s it from me for the year let alone the week as I take a couple of weeks off until January 7th when the leagues restart. Have a great Christmas and remember the Boxing Day derby features Barnstaple Chiefs at home this year so make sure you make a space in your calendar for that one, it is sure to be a massive turnout.