Evening everyone and welcome back to the penultimate weekend of the 2022/23 rugby season and what a fantastic weekend we have for you to finish the season off with starting at 1pm on the second pitch with the semi-final of the Dave Butt cup between the Buccaneers and Torquay for a place in the final. Then it is on to the main event as Barnstaple Chiefs take on Stourbridge in their final home game of the season which kicks off at 2.30, sponsored by Wright Commercial and Torch Farm Vets who we thank for their generous and longstanding support of Barnstaple Rugby. There was to be another semi-final involving Athletic who take on Ivybridge in the 2nd XV cup semi-final, unfortunately it looks like Ivybridge have cried off so that one has now been cancelled which does mean it is onward to the final at the home ground of either Cullompton or Brixham depending on who wins their Semi-final match on Saturday 22nd April.
Don’t forget to select your Supporters player of the season which will be announced after the Chiefs game today, you can collect your voting slips when you get to the ground. Also, after the game there will be a chance to meet and chat with the players as they will be sharing a drink ro two with supporters.
Then it is on to Sunday where Barnstaple Rugby Club will be hosting the Ashburton Motor works Ltd. Devon Colts finals as part of Barnstaple Colts 50th birthday celebrations. That Colts team in their inaugural year consisted of players such as the current president Trevor Edwards, Chris Drayton, who is still coaching the Colts with as much enthusiasm as he had when playing (or so I’m told), brothers Anthony and Peter Featherstone, Richard Squire, Nick Loosemore, Peter May, Keith Brayley, Alan Mackie (Coach), Ian Jewell, Tony Mullen and Chris Brownscombe,
Our very own Barnstaple Colts will be looking to make their own piece of history when they compete in the Shield final which kicks off at 1pm. There will be refreshments all day with the bar open, hot food and various goodies stalls around the ground. Entry is just £5 for over 16’s. We have the Colts team for you later in the Blog but first we have the sad news of Ivan Turner’s passing,
Long-time Club Member Ivan Turner
It is with sadness that we report the passing of arguably our oldest club member Ivan Turner who died recently aged 96 years.
When Ivan retired from playing, he became an active committee man taking on any job handed to him, from touch judge to barman to general handyman and cleaner. He will be fondly remembered telling tales of his many travels to far flung places all over the world. From Lundy Island to the Galapagos Islands. Ivan recorded his adventures with his camera capturing the birds and wildlife in their natural habitat.
In later life poor health kept him at home where he still remained a proud member and generous supporter of our club. Members of his family are with us today to join in a minutes’ applause before the Chiefs game in celebration of Ivans life. Ivans funeral will take place at the North Devon Crematorium on Monday the 24th April at 1220.
Barnstaple Rugby would like to pass on their deepest sympathies to Ian’s family and Friends at this time.
It is becoming a busy time club wise with several events on the horizon to entertain us at the start of the off-season, beginning with a change of sport next weekend with a St. George’s Day special Boxing tournament. Always a great sporting spectacle and very much worth the entry fee, details on the poster below.
BARUM FEST 2023
The Barnstaple rugby annual 7’s festival is back with us on May 7th sponsored by Slee Blackwell Solicitors. The rugby begins at 10am and as always will be a fabulous day out for all. Keep watching Barnstaple Rugby’s facebook homepage as the event nears for more details on the days events.
End of Season Club Dinner
This year’s end of season club dinner is being held at the Barnstaple Hotel on Saturday 20th May. The price is £35 per person to include a 3-course meal and music plus the annual club awards. This event is open to any supporters of Barnstaple Rugby and promises to be a great night of entertainment and fun. Interested then contact Verity White at email@example.com
CHAIR RUNS MARATHON
Barnstaple’s committee Chair Paul Shaddick will be on a marathon run in a few week’s time all in aid of Motor Neurone Disease Association? Paul is running in the Leeds Marathon which is dedicated to Rob Burrows a rugby league player suffering with MND. We also know many other players suffering such as Ed Slater and of course Doddie Weir who died earlier this year. Paul’s mother-in-law also died a couple of years ago and of course Simon Carter also suffered the same too. If Paul does manage it, he will have gone from couch to marathon since the new year!
Please give generously both to this worthy cause and to help Paul continue his epic journey, his giving page is www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Paul-shaddick
Yes folks, we have the first of what the organisers hope will be an end of season annual golfing day for supporters and players of Barnstaple Rugby. The Venue is Libbaton Golf Course at Umberleigh and it is just £40pp and will include a bacon bap. Full details below.
Barnstaple Boys Secondary School Reunion
For all those that attended Barnstaple Boys Secondary Modern School between 1939-1972. There will be a school reunion at Barnstaple Rugby Club starting at 7pm on the 24th June.
Entrance fee same as last time £5 which will include a raffle ticket first prize is a break at Saunton Sands hotel.
Gerald Thorne has been running this for 20 plus years, and he feels now is the time to pass the organisation of the event onto someone else.
If you feel that you could do a good job of it, please contact Gerald on the night.
COLTS TEAM TO FACE TOPSHAM ON SUNDAY
Barnstaple Buccaneers v Torquay Athletic II
We begin in chronological order this week and that means first up is the Buccaneers semi-final against Torquay Athletic II. Now you don’t need me to harp on about how the Bucc’s smashed their way to the top of the Devon Merit table 1NE but alas I will as it is an impressive record. In their first year after reforming, they have absolutely smashed it all season with some big wins. Their season reads 16 wins and 1 loss with 1 game that was cancelled determined as a draw. Included in those results are also eight, yes read that number again, eight clean sheets of which no points were conceded by the Bucc’s in their last three matches, that’s 240 minutes without conceding a single point and with two more games to come including this Semi-Final they might even extend that.
It should be a cracking game against the Devon Merit Table 1SW runner up Torquay who only lost 2 games all season with 9 wins under their belt. Considering this game kicks off at 1pm I would advise you get down for what I believe will be a highly entertaining game of rugby to watch, then of course you will be well lubricated for the Chiefs match at 2.30.
The final for the Dave Butt cup is on Sunday 23rd April at Cullompton which hopefully will feature our very own Buccaneers
Barnstaple Chiefs v Stourbridge
And that is where we go next as the Chiefs play their final home game of what has been a long season for them with glimpses of success, but which never really solidified into anything consistent. Today they take on fellow relegation contenders Stourbridge who I expect have had an even longer season with all sorts of happenings behind the scenes following the collapse of Worcester Warriors, but more on that in a minute.
Stourbridge are as old as we are, in fact a year older having been formed in 1876. Based in Staffordshire they were originally started by members of the Cricket Club who wanted a winter activity and at first it was so successful that the club’s name was changed to the Stourbridge Cricket and Football Club. founded as a branch of the Stourbridge Cricket Club and initially shared the cricket ground in Amblecote but were disbanded in 1893 following a lull in the interest in the game in the midlands. Being revived In 1921 and finding success later following their connection with King Edward’s Grammar School which guaranteed the club a regular supply of players and administrators.
Having a very successful period after the war with consistent success of the 1st XV being reflected by the fact that in only four of the 56 post war seasons have they ended up with a losing record. Steady progress for the club saw a move to their current ground at Stourton in 1965.
Winning National league three in 2000-2001 they were promoted to National league 2 then onto National League 1 in 2008 before dropping back to National 2 North in 2012 where they have remained with a pretty good record over the past 10 seasons and as you can see a very experienced National League rugby team who for the first time in 20 years are looking at tier 5 rugby following a very difficult season.
It hasn’t helped matters when in February members of Stourbridge were rudely awakened with a proposal to poach their successful 1st XV by Atlas, the new owners of Worcester Warriors, and move the team to Sixways with a potential rebranding. Originally announced by the papers as “The new owners at Sixways Stadium aim to relocate Stourbridge RFC from Stourton Park to Sixways Stadium under the new name of ‘Sixways Rugby’, to compete in the National League 2 West.” must have been jaw dropping.
Now we here down in the Southwest are way too far from the heated debates I expect that are currently taking place but I can just imagine what I would be thinking if a similar situation occurred between us and the Exeter Chiefs, fuming would be an understatement, but there are probably a lot of quantifying problems that Stourbridge face that might make this offer appetising. Currently, according to the local press (don’t get me started on local newspapers) the proposals were for former Worcester Warriors players, both older and younger, to be recruited to help take the team through the leagues and that Atlas would invest in Stourbridge’s semi-professional first team who would play at Sixways with Atlas providing significant investment to get them through the leagues to reach the Championship by 2026. Now if that is not poaching I don’t know what is but as ever take how a local newspaper presents something with two pinches of salt first. One thing is for sure this is a saga that will continue in the post season as the members will have the final say in a vote on the matter.
As for the Chiefs it is increasing likely they will be playing back in familiar territory next season in the South West Premier with Bournville only needing a point from four remaining games and the Chiefs needing all 10 points from their final two, possible but unlikely. This will give a chance for these youngsters to take all that National Two experience and mould it into a successful team that finds the extra 10% it needs to become a regular Tier four team. They have the talent, just need another season or two to find the magic and doing that in tier 5 might be the tonic they need. It will be fun though revisiting the likes of Exmouth, Brixham and Launceston, we shall see, but I for one is already looking forward to next season with all those possibilities including a return to the Devon Seniors Cup.
As for this Saturday we have two teams that will be playing for pride and all I can say is that I hope the Chiefs go out there to enjoy their rugby and produce the sort of rugby we have fleetingly seen but know they can achieve, to give everyone in the ground a great game to watch and a fabulous send off to the season at Pottington Road. Just food for thought as well in what Stourbridge director of rugby Neil Mitchell said regarding the merger I mentioned earlier, when he pointed out that.
for the last 20 years we have had to beg, steal and borrow players to compete at National League level.
The one huge advantage we have at Barnstaple with the Chiefs is that they consist of mostly North Devon players, with many having come through the juniors and colts. Just to amplifiy that point there are no less than 14 in today’s squad that have come through Barnstaple’s youth section with 3 others from South Molton and of course George Snell from Bideford and the only player from outside of North Devon that i can make out is our very own adopted Barum gent Ben Hilton. I know I have been at times their worst critic bemoaning the number of penalties etc. but it is not until you step back and read what other teams are having to do to compete at this level that you come to realise just how good the talent is here at Barnstaple and how many really good rugby players we are producing with more talent coming forward, that you will be able to see as they take to the field on Sunday in the Colts Shield final. We have competed at this level with mostly local talent and I for one am very proud what our team has achieved this season and will go on to achieve in the future.
There are several returnees to the squad this weekend including a welcome return of Barnstaple Chiefs top try scorer Jonathon Kelly and of course on the bench is our very own Robbie Hume back from starting with the Royal Navy Academy on Wednesday against the RAF. Here then is your Barnstaple Chiefs team to face Stourbridge.
That is about it folks for the season here at Pottington Road. All three senior teams are on the road next weekend with the Chiefs playing thier final game at Exeter Uni, Athletic travel to either Brixham or Cullompton depending who wins their semi and the Bucc’s, providing they win today, will play in the Dave Butt final on Sunday 23rd April at Cullompton. Good luck to ALL our teams playing this weekend and especially the Colts on Sunday.
Finally I would just like to thank all you supporters who, no matter what, come to these games full of enthusiasim and heart and make Pottington Road a magical place to watch rugby at, Roll on the new season but in the meantime have a great summer.
Take care everyone and I will see you all at the bar.