Welcome back folks to another instalment from yours truly. Today in a packed schedule we have both the Chiefs and Athletic at home. The Chiefs are engaged in a massive game as they take on fellow strugglers Bournville, whilst Athletic greet Exmouth Quinn’s full of confidence having beaten the two top teams in the league in successive weeks. The Bucc’s are away to Exmouth Nomads whilst the Colts, also on the road, visit Brixham Colts. Please note that there will be no outside bar today but the Abrahams suite bar will be open for service.
In Memory of Jean McManus – a loyal supporter.
It is with sadness that we report the passing of long serving supporter Jean McManus who died a fortnight ago at home aged 86 years.
When the new club was built in the seventies Jean was a prominent member of the Ladies Committee made up at that time of girlfriends, wives and mothers of players who volunteered to prepare, cook and serve the meals for players and guests. Jean’s children followed her in their involvement with the club with her sons Tony, Nicky, David and Patrick all playing for the club and her daughter Sandra well known to us all as one of the “Two Cooks” who provided such lovely meals for us in recent times. Brothers Tony, David and Patrick have possibly the unique distinction of all playing together in the Chiefs team that played Cinderford many years ago.
The family would like to share this short tribute to her.
“We have fond memories of our Mum Jean McManus who passed away on February 11th 2023. A lifelong supporter and volunteer of BRFC alongside her late husband Bill. Jean was so proud of all her family who represented Barnstaple on many occasions over the years, with many more to follow. Always one for a drink, chat and a good old sing song.
Her laughter and hospitality will be dearly missed.”
Barnstaple Rugby Club would like to pass on our deepest sympathy and thoughts to Jean’s family and friends at this time. Family members are with us today when we invite everyone to show their respect to Jean with a minute’ applause before the start of today’s game.
Now to today’s game and last weekend the Chiefs did themselves a lot of favours by grabbing two very valuable bonus points at Old Redcliffians, a ground where we have been starved of any success in recent meetings, in what looked to be a thrilling game. Although from the start it never looked likely that Barnstaple would get anything from this fixture as the Old Reds flew out of the gate to take a 21-0 lead within 20 minutes. Matt Gohl was the first to score as the Chiefs fought back with a try 5 minutes later but that was quickly countered by Old Reds to maintain that 21-point lead and it looked likely they would keep that lead until Johny Carter made the game more interesting just before the break to reduce the deficit to 21-12 at half time.
The second half it was the Chiefs that came out of the starting blocks the quickest with a Jake
Murphy try within just 2 minutes of the restart which was added to by Sam Roberts right on the 60-minute mark. By now those of us following events on twitter were getting hopeful that a win might be in sight, only for Old Redcliffians to slam that one back into our faces with a converted try and penalty in the space of five minutes to extend their lead to 36-24. Already with the try bonus point in the bag the Chiefs pushed hard for the final minutes and on the 80th minute Will Topps cut in from the wing and went over for a try converted by Jake Murphy to reduce the lead to just 5 points and aa additional losing bonus point as Old Redcliffians won 36-31.
Today Barnstaple welcomes first timers Bournville to Pottington Road as the Chiefs have another bottom of the table clash to contest with another must win game for both sides. As you may have already guessed Bournville Rugby Club was founded in 1909 by the workers from Cadburys on August 17th of that year, donning the chocolate colours and by 1910 a successful 2nd team was formed creating today’s Bournville RFC.
The original Bournville RFC sides consisted entirely of Cadbury employees and the company would traditionally award caps to players and even into the 1960’s where more players from outside the factory workforce joined the club, Bournville’s player base was still heavily reliant on Cadbury employees and notable players for the club during this period included Dave Kappler and Sir John Sutherland who went on to became the former Executive Finance Director And former Chief Executive respectively at Cadbury Schweppes PLC.
The club has really prospered though since the turn of the century which has seen Bournville RFC initially gaining promotion in four consecutive seasons, from Level 10 to Level 6 and of course now to National league rugby status by winning the Midlands Premier title the same year we won the Southwest Premier title winning them automatic promotion to National 2 North.
Now with just five points separating these two sides and only six games left in the season today is a vital match for both sides if their ambitions of staying up this season are to be realised. Bournville do have that game in hand over the Chiefs and also have possibly the easier path to the end of the season with both Hornets and Stourbridge to face at home as well as a final match of the season at Old Redcliffians, so it is vital that the Chiefs start quickly in this game and maintain the pressure throughout if they want the victory, especially if it is to come with a try bonus point. This promises to be a fantastic game between two sides that will be fighting for the chance to stay up this season and hopefully Barnstaple’s earlier win over Bournville at their ground in October with a Bonus try 14-37 will be the encouragement they need to confidently win this one.
Just a couple of changes to the team that played at Old Redcliffians with Jake Childs, Brandon Moore and Sam Roberts all in the starting line-up and Dylan Gosling and Dan Johnson returning, here then is the team to face Bournville.
ATHLETIC, BUCC’S and COLTS
Another massively entertaining game for Athletic last weekend as they really did cement their status in Counties 2 tribute Devon league with another bonus point win, this time over second placed Torquay. With several players from last weekend’s win against Tavistock, including two of the try scorers from that game unavailable for this one, this fixture was a chance to show just how well balanced and enthusiastic this squad is as a whole and they really did seal this win with probably their most dominating performance of the season as Torquay never even saw the Tic’s half of the pitch in the first 40 minutes of the game.
Luke Knight opened the scoring, seeing the gap to sprint though after a prolonged series of phases which Torquay’s well organised defence were matching with their own determination to stop the Tic’s getting through. Once that first try went over a second was added shortly after when Tom Swales forced his way through 2 defenders close to the line. A third was scored in similar fashion to last weekend’s short lineout with Hooker Scott Incledon the grateful recipient for his first of the afternoon, as the Tic’s went in at half time 15-0.
Athletic began the second half as they finished the first, on the front foot and Ben Jago had what he thought was the bonus try only for it to be called held up, but it wasn’t long before Scott Incledon did indeed add the bonus point try and his second by outpacing the defence from his own half to score. Their fifth came from some lovely teamwork down the flank which put Harvey Rostock in some space to run at the line, tackled close to it he was able to offload to a grateful Ryan Smale to go over close in for Barnstaple’s final try of the day and a try which very much epitomises this Athletic team as just that, a team, that are playing for each other, enjoying their rugby with huge smiles and defeating the top teams in the league with confidence. Head coach Luke Berry really can’t ask for much more from his team.
This puts Athletic just three points behind Torquay and with just three games to play and does put the pressure squarely on Torquay’s shoulders to keep their second place, although they do have the knowledge that they have a game in hand over Barnstaple, but even so it is a tremendous first season in competitive league rugby for Barnstaple Athletic.
Today they welcome Exmouth Quinns to Pottington Road and will definitely be looking for another five points in this game. Mind you Exmouth are always an issue for Barnstaple teams, there does seem to be a little more of an edge to the game when we play them, even so here is the team that will hopefully do the business over Exmouth today.
The Bucc’s grabbed another clean sheet last weekend beating Exeter Saracens 0-58 to further their claim on the Devon Merit table NE and now stand 13 points clear of second placed Bideford 2nd XV with just three games eft to play. Today they travel to Exmouth to face their Nomads and five points here will surely secure the title for them this season. A fantastic result for their return to rugby.
The Colts are off to Brixham Colts today in what will probably be their biggest challenge of the season as Brixham have won all 6 of their games including a tight 7-15 win over Barnstaple at Pottington Road and are currently leading the table on 27 points with Barnstaple in third place on 14 points. I expect given this stop start season they have had this year they will be happy enough to get some time on the pitch and finally play some rugby. Their last game was three weeks ago when they beat 2nd placed Topsham at home 19-5.
The Colts have two more games before the Shield Merit table ends, both at home against Exeter and Okehampton on March 11th and 18th. If they can grab the win today it will give them every chance with those two home ties yet to play.
Finally before I leave you congratulations t Lucy Ward a former Barnstaple junior girls rugby player on being selected for England U18’s squad.
Good luck to all our teams plaing this weekend and for you supporters enjoy your day at Pottington Road and let’s make some noise. Don’t forget immediately following the Chiefs match Wales take on England and there are Tribute and Calesberg specials on offer throughout the game so no need for anyone to sneak off after the match we have everything yu need to watch the 6 nations in comfort.