Welcome everyone to another high-octane weekend of rugby with the Chiefs National two West encounter at home this Saturday entertaining first time visitors to Pottington Road, Leicestershire’s Loughborough Students, which is sponsored by Slee Blackwell Solicitors and Anderson and Evans Builders, which kicks off at 2pm. Athletic are back on their travels after a very successful return home last weekend, this time they are visiting Ivybridge, hopefully to exact some revenge for earlier in the season. The Bucc’s have a week off before they welcome Exmouth Nomads to Pottington road next Saturday, kick off for that one is as ever 2pm and the same goes for the Colts who were disappointed that last Saturday’s game had to be called off, they will hopefully be welcoming the Brixham Colts next Saturday.

North Devon Hospice rugby ramble is back on 18th March 2023, titled Miles for Mens Mental Health the ramble begin at midday through to 7pm. Will you walk for the mental health of local men? Sign up for the Rugby Ramble today. By taking part, you will help more men from North Devon access emotional support, as they face an illness like cancer or the loss of someone they love. So let’s stride out together and make a difference. Sign up before 9th December for the special early-bird offer price of just £20. More details here https://www.northdevonhospice.org.uk/support-us/events/rugby-ramble/

Talking of charity events our very own Juniors are again collecting toys for the Children of Ukraine full details below

Barnstaple RFU Mission Christmas

Christmas Bags to Ukraine

Earlier this year the Junior Section U15s wanted to help young people in Ukraine and organised the ‘Bags to Ukraine ‘Appeal. With help from Exeter Community Chiefs, who donated the drawstring bags, over 110 bags were taken to Ukraine. All the bags were safely delivered over the border with Poland into Ukraine. Our bags were received by a Children’s home who are unable to evacuate the children and to children who have stayed in Ukraine but are now living and going to school inside underground bunkers.

During our first meeting of the Junior Section Committee it was agreed that the members would like to continue to support the children in Ukraine. They decided that they would like to send some more bags out for Christmas. There will be a lorry leaving Barnstaple on Friday 16th Dec and we hope to have as many bags as possible on board.

After chatting to Ana, who is organising the delivery, we now have a better idea of what is needed. She explained that is already -4 degrees and most of the children do not have any electricity. She said they have access to food but not treats like sweets/biscuits or chocolates. They need pants, warm socks, vests, gloves, hats scarves etc. The children are kept underground in bunkers nearly all the time so they need things to keep them busy. I have attached a list below to give you some ideas of things that you could put into a bag. Ana said that the children would really like a Christmas card/postcard telling them a bit about you or a message of support. It means a lot to the children to know that other children are thinking about them. We can get your messages translated into Ukrainian if you wish.

Bags need to be return to the club by Sunday 11th December. Thank you for your ongoing support. Please put a tag on your bag telling us the age and gender(if specific) that you would like your bag to go to.

Ages ….2-4, 5-8, 9-11, 12-16

Yours

The Junior Section Committee

Finally an appeal for any Year 5 Boys and Girls looking to play rugby to join our U10’s team, Interested then email juniors@barnstaplerugby.com

So, who are Loughborough Students you may ask, well they are possible one of the bigger names in National League rugby, renowned for their world-class sport facilities, hosting the official Team GB preparation camp before London 2012, and has numerous famous sporting alumni including Lord Coe, Steve Backley and Paula Radcliffe.

The rugby club itself was formed by the students of Loughborough College back in 1919 and competed in their first Universities Athletic Union competition in 1930. By 1939 they had reached the UAU final for the first time, losing narrowly to Swansea and finally winning it in 1953. The 1960’s and 70’s was a golden period for the Loughborough Students with John Robins as coach from 1962. During his tenure at Loughborough, the UAU was won from 1962 to 1968 with only 1965 eluding the club. John Robins went on to become the first British Lions coach.

Following John Robins was Scotland and Lions international Jim Greenwood who was actually hired by Loughborough as an English lecturer but became quite possibly one of the most respected rugby coaches ever, whose two seminal rugby coaching books still hugely regarded today, Total Rugby and Think Rugby, which were described by Former England World cup winning manager Sir Clive Woodward, who was captain of the Loughborough Students team during the 1978/79 season, as,

“Jim’s book Total Rugby is the only rugby coaching book I have ever read, it was way ahead of its time and has become a closely studied classic, especially in New Zealand. No man did more in our time to single-handedly transform the modern game of rugby”.

By now with the University established in 1976 the Rugby Club became fully affiliated with the University following the merging of the Students’ Unions of the University of Technology and the Loughborough Colleges and thus Loughborough Students Rugby Club was formed.

With the club turning down the RFU’s offer of a place in National 2, when they did decide to join, did so at the bottom of the league system. It took them until the 2007/08 season to claim their place in National 2 North and finished their first season in 6th place. Claiming 2nd place in the following two season Loughborough Students finally gained automatic promotion to National one by winning the league in 2011/12 where they had a fairly modest but successful six seasons with their highest position being 7th. Loughborough Students were relegated back to National 2 North in 2018/19 where we meet them today.

As you can see this club has a very rich vein of rugby history with a distinguished and pre-eminent standing in British rugby and an unrivalled history of sporting success.  Since being established the Club has won the universities’ rugby championship title (UAU and BUSA) an unparalleled 27 times, more than any other university and in the process, produced 65 men’s full international capped players from every Home Nation, 17 of whom were also British and Irish Lions, and a further 41 women’s full international capped players. In addition to players, numerous Loughborough Students Rugby alumni have gone on to hold international coaching roles or work in senior levels of rugby administration. The World Cup winning England team was coached by six Loughborough alumni: Sir Clive Woodward, Dave Alred, Andy Robinson, Dave Reddin, Phil Larder and Simon Hardy whilst the Fijian team won the first Olympic 7s competition coached by Loughborough alumni Ben Ryan, defeating Team GB in the process and fellow Loughborough alumni Phil Burgess.

So where are they today then, well it has been a rocky start to the season for the team who are meeting some unfamiliar teams in the newly formed National 2 West league and currently find themselves in 8th place having narrowly lost at home to league leaders Leicester Lions last weekend. They currently have 4 wins to their name and two draws one of which was a 38-38 draw at Bournville, a place where the Chiefs recorded their second win of the season 14-37. So today Loughborough Students will have something to prove to both themselves and the league as a whole which will make this team dangerous opponents and might give us a spectacular game of rugby, conditions permitting.

As for the Chiefs it was another tough game down at Redruth, always a difficult place to get a result, and again penalties cost us in this one with three yellows during the game, that now makes it 11 yellows in the last four games, its no wonder we are where we are in the league. Mind you the defensive effort must have been huge as although Redruth shut us out it was Frazer Honey’s boot, remember him, that sealed the win converting four penalties and a conversion, with the Chiefs reducing Redruth’s try count to just three and the last one was a penalty try right at the end of the game. So, a good defensive effort by the lads but those penalties will keep on hurting us and we really need to get a grip on them in this game because after facing three of the top teams in the league and giving them tough games here is a chance for the Chiefs to record their first home win of the season, but to do so the Chiefs will have to be at their very best both in their playing and discipline.

There is one other glaring problem for the Chiefs and that’s scoring points with only 13 points scored over the last three games we seem to be struggling to convert pressure into points. Now a big part of that of course is penalties which will always hamper any attempt to exert prolonged periods of pressure on teams but the tip of our spear also seems blunted at this stage, hence why we are bottom of the league with only 161 points scored, the lowest by quite some margin. Hopefully some redress to those figures can be attained today and with the return of Ashley Crouch to the squad today will give some encouragement, as will Jake Patrick starting in the second row after a short absence, here then is the Chiefs to take on the Students

 

ATHLETIC

Athletic made a welcomed return to Pottington Road last weekend when they shut out Devonport Services II 33-0 to restart their campaign after two painful defeats on the road previously by top of the table sides. This will again provide another good platform to launch a sustained series of wins with a flurry of home games coming their way. Unfortunately I missed a lot of the game as I was on errands, so can’t really detail how well they played or who scored, but from what I did manage to catch the Tic’s dominated the game and well deserved their win.

This does keep them in 6th place in the league with Tavistock still running away with it, losing just the one match. Today Athletic have the chance to exact revenge on Ivybridge who defeated them here at Pottington Road in September. So, a big chance for athletic to right that wrong and get themselves another win to work their way into the top four and the team that does that includes Senior Colts Louis Beer who starts today and making his debut in senior rugby Alex Penny who is on the bench. Here then is your team travelling to Ivybridge.

That just about wraps it up for another weekend, good luck to both our teams today and take care everyone and I will see you all at the bar.

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