Sam Matavesi

Massive congratulations to Sam on his tremendous performances for Fiji in the two test series against New Zealand.

What a sight to see the Camborne’s Cornish-Fijian powering down the touchline in the build up to a Fijian try during the 1st test.

No doubt we shall see Sam involved again come the Autumn test schdule.

Posted in Bill's Blog


Cornishman picked for Lions Test

Trelawny’s Army wishes Luke Cowan Dickie the very best of luck when he runs out for the British & Irish Lions Test side against South Africa in the 1st test on Saturday.

Chons da Luke.

Posted in Bill's Blog


Pirates round off season with narrow loss

Jersey Reds 32   Cornish Pirates 31

In what was their final game in this season’s truncated Greene King IPA Championship, the Cornish Pirates fell just short of achieving a victory at the Jersey team’s Stade Santander International ground, reports Phil Westren

In the try stakes the Pirates outscored their opponents by five tries to four, but it was not enough, although they at least ended the match with two bonus points.

For their fleeting visit, flying in and out of the island on the day, team changes for the Cornish Pirates included welcoming back AJ Cant from injury. He slotted in at full-back with Tommy Wyatt moving to the wing. In the pack there were returns for loose-head prop Marlen Walker and for hooker Dan Frost ahead of him joining Wasps in the summer. Also, on the tight-head berth, former Namibian under 20s international Patrick Schickerling was set to make his debut.

As the Pirates ran out at Stade Santander International the sound of supporter applause was a welcome one. Missed because of Covid by the Pirates at home this season, it was the third occasion that the Reds had welcomed spectators since regulations on the island permitted.

In a match that in the first quarter gave no indication of a points flow that would ultimately follow, matters were also a little heated at times, at least providing proof that this was no flimsy end of season affair.

The Pirates had launched a first meaningful attack when it was ever busy hooker Dan Frost who linked with wing Maliq Holden and centre Will Butler. Play was taken to the right corner, and hopes were high of a score, but following a line-out six metres out scrum-half Jean-Baptist Bruzulier appeared to have been unluckily adjudged that the ball was nudged forward.

When the first points were registered, they went the way of the Reds. Referee Mr Richards had felt obliged to have a quiet word with Pirates’ lock Josh Caulfield following a contretemps, and after Jersey gained territory from a penalty award, from a second penalty offer it was the Championship’s top scorer, fly-half Brendan Cope, who started the scoreboard ticking.

Home supporters watching this affair were delighted, and even more so when just a couple of minutes later wing Tom Williams won a high ball challenge for him to then sprint in from halfway for a try scored to the left of the posts. Cope added the extras to make it 10-nil.

For the Pirates they now had a challenge on their hands, and one that demanded a response. Credit to them, therefore, that following a catch and drive it was debutant Schickerling who showed raw power to force his way over the line. Attempting the conversion from wide on the right, fly-half Arwel Robson’s effort drifted just wide.

Flanker Antonio Kiri Kiri soon twice showed the athletic pace that he offers as a backrower but, after the Pirates were next penalised again, from a resulting catch and drive hooker Eoghan Clarke scored a converted try to make it 17-5 to Jersey.

Approaching half time, the scoreline was one few might have expected, however the Pirates thankfully reacted once again, as Robson put centre Will Butler into space who timed his pass to enable the supporting Cant to run in an unconverted try.

Arriving at halftime with the score reading 17-10 looked much better, and although the performance thus far had been a little disjointed at times, that the Pirates had come back into the game surely boded well for an interesting second period.

The opening period of the second forty was evenly contested, however after the Pirates lost skipper Tom Duncan to the sin bin, the Reds extended their lead with a converted try scored by full-back Scott Van Breda.

Against a Jersey side that in general has gone from strength to strength in their decade competing in the Championship, it was time for the Pirates to respond once more, and they did, as some fine interplay ended with Frost scoring a try that was converted by Robson.

With play now entering the last quarter, a 61st minute Cope penalty opened a 10 points gap, with it on the balance of play looking that the Reds would be winners. There was still time for Pirates, but too often there was frustration that opportunities created had broken down, and after the Reds scored their bonus point providing fourth try through replacement hooker Jack Macfarlane it was surely all but game over.

Well, that was not a script to be followed by the never-say-die Pirates, who deserved enormous credit in time remaining to provide a real grandstand finish. They were not able to sneak a victory but late tries scored by replacements Shae Tucker and Rhodri Davies, both converted by replacement fly-half Will Cargill, got them within a whisker of their hosts. A win was naturally sought, however in the context of this match to secure not just a four-try bonus point but also one for losing by less than seven points, was rightly some consolation.

After the game, and at the end of a season like no other, Cornish Pirates’ joint head coach Gavin Cattle commented:

“We pride ourselves in never giving up and we saw that at the end, but at the same there were some aspects of our play that disappointed.

“In the set piece, and especially come maul time, Jersey had the upper hand, as we appeared at times to lack our usual energy.

“To finish fourth is for us a little frustrating because we wanted and aimed for a top three finish, but with a small squad anyway injuries unfortunately went against us.”

Jersey Reds:   15 Scott Van Breda, 14 Tom Williams, 13 Jack Roberts (23 Bader Pretorius, 75), 12 Dan Barnes, 11 Brendan Owen, 10 Brendan Cope, 9 Max Green (James Elliott 42); 1 Dan Richardson (17 Ollie Dawe, 72), 2 Eoghan Clarke (16 Jack Macfarlane, 55), 3 Ciaran Parker (18 Jack Higgins, 72), 4 Zak Farrance (19 James Scott, 60), 5 Sean O’Connor (20 Matti Williams, 72), 6 Macauley Cook, 7 Lewis Wynne (captain; 22 Josh Bainbridge, 62), 8 Max Argyle.

Cornish Pirates:   15 AJ Cant (23 Shae Tucker, 68), 14 Maliq Holden, 13 Rory Parata, 12 Will Butler, 11 Tommy Wyatt, 10 Arwel Robson (22 Will Cargill, 74), 9 Jean-Baptist Bruzulier (21 Rhodri Davies, 51); 1 Marlen Walker (17 Jack Andrew, 63), 2 Dan Frost (16 Tom Channon, 74), 3 Patrick Schickerling (18 Sam Rodman, 63), 4 Josh Caulfield (Fa’atiga Lemalu, 50), 5 Danny Cutmore, 6 Matt Bolwell, 7 Antonio Kiri Kiri, 8 Tom Duncan (captain; John Stevens, 64).

Yellow card:   8 Tom Duncan (54).

Scorers:

Jersey Reds – tries:  14 Tom Williams (22), 16 Eoghan Clarke (34), 15 Scott Van Breda, (55), 16 Jack Macfarlane, (73); cons: 10 Brendan Cope (22, 34, 55); pens: 10 Brendan Cope (21, 61).

Cornish Pirates – tries: 3 Patrick Schickerling (26), 15 AJ Cant (38), 2 Dan Frost (58), 23 Shae Tucker (77), 21 Rhodri Davies (79); cons: 10 Arwel Robson (58), 22 Will Cargill (77, 79).

Referee:   Dean Richards

Posted in Bill's Blog


Pirates end home games on a high

Cornish Pirates 52   Hartpury 26

By Phil Westren, at the Mennaye

Playing their penultimate fixture in this season’s somewhat shortened Greene King IPA Championship campaign, in what was also their last home game the Cornish Pirates won convincingly against Hartpury.

It was an entertaining encounter, with both sides playing their part. A total of 12 tries were registered in the match – four for the visitors and eight for the Pirates, including a hat-trick apiece for skipper Tom Duncan and replacement hooker Dan Frost.

There were several changes in the Cornish Pirates team that won at Coventry last time out. In the backs, with a fit again Maliq Holden returning on the wing, Will Butler reverted back to inside centre. Also, at scrum half, after several appearances off the bench, Jean-Baptist Bruzulier returned to the starting line-up.

As for the forwards, Hayden King wore the number ‘1’ shirt, whilst Tom Cowan-Dickie, who had made three appearances as a replacement since recovering from injury, was about to make his first start of the season. As for the pack’s back five, they remained the same.

Playing towards the Newlyn end of the ground it was Hartpury who opened the scoring. Fly-half Josh Bragman made a jinking run inside the Pirates ‘22’, and with the ball ultimately worked left it was wing Ben Foley who scored an unconverted try in the old Western National corner.

In the same period of play Cowan-Dickie’s match also cruelly came to an end, the luckless hooker having to depart proceedings because of a neck injury.

Hartley had a sprinkling of experienced performers in their ranks, and none more so that Botswana-born No. 8 Iain Grieve, who is a former Bristol, Plymouth Albion, and Ealing Trailfinders player. However, soon after home full-back Tommy Wyatt twice impressed to take a high ball under pressure, the first example seeing him light up the Mennaye with an excellent kick ahead and chase, the Pirates worked the ball left for Holden and Butler to apply pressure at the scoreboard corner. With the Pirates scrum also showing dominance, referee Mr. Thomas had no hesitation in awarding the Pirates a penalty try.                                     

The visitors strived to respond, but in the process Pirates’ wing Alex O’Meara suddenly intercepted and immediately put on the burners to run half the length of the field for a score at the Penzance posts. Fly-half Arwel Robson’s conversion made it 14-5.

Hungry for more points, the Pirates cause was being helped by the mounting penalty count against Hartpury. Able to post the ball to the corners, the opportunities to set up potent catch and drives delivered the goods, with firstly converted tries for Duncan and Frost, the latter’s a bonus point providing effort, and then another for Frost, this time unconverted.

Yes, 33-5 looked good on the scoreboard, but there was still time before the break to enable the Pirates to further extend their lead, which they did, when Duncan’s second converted try, scored in the 39th minute, made it 40-5.

During the afternoon, the club flag at the Mennaye Field flew at half-mast. This was a mark of respect to the memory of former 500 games player and team secretary Keith Stirling who had passed away during the week. Words were also expressed in memory of Camborne stalwart Peter Floyd and to Barry Chadwick, brother of Pirates’ match day volunteer Mark Chadwick, following news that they too had sadly died.

Back to the rugby action, the last 40 minutes at home for the Pirates this season, there was every hope that they could kick on and register still more points. They did, with the energetic Frost and Duncan each securing their hat-tricks, but there was credit also to Hartpury who, on the scoreboard at least, troubled the operator most. The impressive Bragman scored a try and two conversions, and there were also fine tries touched down by centre Robbie Smith and wing Sam Goatley, whose final try of the game was converted by centre James Williams

Speaking at the end of Saturday’s encounter, Cornish Pirates joint head coach Gavin Cattle said:

“Naturally we are pleased with scoreline, as it is one we would certainly have taken before the game, and although I didn’t enjoy the first or last 10 minutes we played some good bits of rugby in between.

“In the first half our catch and drive worked very well, with Arwel kicking well out of hand to put us in good positions which enabled us to apply the pressure close to the Hartpury line, and it is something we could perhaps have made more of in the second period, the lesson being don’t get bored of what works.

“Our front row also formed a powerful unit and that again also gave us a platform to help keep the scoreboard ticking over.”

Gavin added:

“We were a little disappointed that Hartpury managed their bonus point try at the end, but through playing catch up rugby and shifting the point of contact they deserved it.”

Cornish Pirates:   15 Tommy Wyatt 14 Alex O’Meara 13 Rory Parata 12 Will Butler 11 Maliq Holden 10 Arwel Robson 9 Jean-Baptist Bruzulier; 1 Hayden King 2 Tom Cowan-Dickie 3 Jay Tyack 4 Josh Caulfield 5 Danny Cutmore 6 Matt Bolwell 7 Antonio Kiri Kiri 8 Tom Duncan (captain).

Replacements (all used):   16 Dan Frost 17 Marlen Walker 18 Sam Rodman 19 Fa’atiga Lemalu 20 Paddy Ryan 21 Rhodri Davies 22 Will Cargill 23 Joe Elderkin.

Hartpury:   15 George Simpson 14 Sam Goatley 13 Robbie Smith 12 James Williams 11 Ben Foley 10 Joshua Bragman 9 Oscar Lennon; 1 Olly Adkins 2 Will Crane 3 Mitch Walsh 4 Dale Lemon 5 Arthur Clark 6 Joe Howard 7 Will Safe 8 Iain Grieve.

Replacements (all used):   16 Luke Stratford 17 Ash Challenger 18 Ciaran Knight 19 Ehize Ehizode 20 Morgan Monks 21 Matt Jones 22 Luke Eves 23 Ervin Muric.

Yellow card:   Knight.

Scorers:

Cornish Pirates – tries: Duncan (3), Frost (3), Penalty Try, O’Meara      cons: Robson (5).

Hartpury – tries: Foley, Bragman, Smith, Goatley; cons: Bragman (2), Williams.        

Referee:   Alex Thomas (RFU).

Posted in Bill's Blog


The Day Penryn took on the Lions

Penryn side captained by Roger Harris

Penryn Versus the British Lions!?

With the British Lions squad for South Africa due to be announced on Thursday, hopes will be that perhaps a couple of Cornishmen could be included, namely former Penzance & Newlyn RFC and now Exeter Chiefs products Luke Cowan-Dickie and Jack Nowell. Luke is surely in with a good chance whilst Jack (a 2017 ‘Lion’ in New Zealand) might just come back into consideration now that he has recovered (long may that continue) from injury.

We also remember that our ‘Stack’ Stevens was a British Lion on the successful 1971 tour to Australia & New Zealand. However, something few will be aware of, is that many gifted players from that squad also played for a ‘1971 British Lions’ side against Penryn in September 1973. Scotland’s Doug Smith, the manager of the 1971 team, got together the representative side to play at the Memorial Ground, which was even coached by the legendary Carwyn James who two years earlier had been instrumental in plotting the Kiwis downfall.

John Dawes, captain in 1971, skippered the invitation XV, his team comprising other ‘greats’ of the game such as flying Welsh wing Gerald Davies, centre John Spencer, hooker John Pullin, flanker John Taylor and, of course, ‘Stack’. The fixture formed part of Penryn’s centenary celebrations and it was the only time that the Lions, who emerged 38-10 victors, had played a British club side.

Doug Smith XV v Penryn

There is one player missing from the British Lions team photograph image taken in 1973 – perhaps nature called at the last minute. Most faces I can recognise and identify, whilst a few I can only recognise but not name – so can you

Back row l-r:  Dr. Doug Smith, ‘’Stack’ Stevens, John Pullin, perhaps Mike Slemen – a guess only), John Spencer, Peter Dixon, Unknown, Unknown, Unknown, John Taylor, Carwyn James; Seated l-r: Tommy David, Unknown, John Dawes (captain), Gerald Davies, Geoff Evans.

As a point of interest, this game was played less than two weeks after John Pullin had led England to a 16-10 win against New Zealand at Eden Park, Auckland – when ‘Stack’ was a try-scorer in the memorable victory.

Formed in 1872, Penryn RFC has a proud history as Cornwall’s most senior club. Notable ‘Borough’ players include former England internationals Vic Roberts (who toured with the Lions to Australia and New Zealand in 1950), Roger Hosen, Kenny Plummer, and Chris Martin.

Tom Voyce (nine caps 2001-2006), started in Penryn’s junior teams, and Hugh Vyvyan (one cap in 2004) played a season at Penryn in the 1990s.

Of their county players George Jago was a legendary figure a century ago, whilst in later decades the names of Graham Bate, Roger Harris, John “Cheyenne” Blackburn, Colin ‘Knocker’ Kneebone, Dave (Benji) Thomas, Gerry McKeown and Franklyn Johns come speedily to mind.

The 1960s and into the 70s formed a golden era for Penryn. They won the CRFU ‘unofficial’ Championship eight times and not only won all 29 of their Cornish inter-club games in 1967/68 but also won the Cornwall KO Cup in what was its first season. It was a competition they would all but dominate to the mid-1970s.

Other highlights included guesting in the Middlesex Sevens at Twickenham in 1970, reaching the quarter-final of the RFU Knockout Cup in 1972 – they lost at home 28-4 to a Coventry team boasting nine England internationals – and then in 1973 enjoying another terrific Cup run. Their opponents on the second occasion, again at the Memorial Ground, were mighty London Welsh, who at the time had the likes of John Dawes, J.P.R. Williams, Gerald Davies and John Taylor in their ranks. The famous Exiles emerged 19-6 winners. Both cup games were played in front of 5,000 plus gate.

Looking back, however, I guess it was that special match against the 1971 British Lions that was a stand-out to many – a one off game that will never be forgotten.

Phil Westren

Posted in Bill's Blog


No Coventry Blues for Pirates

Coventry 19   Cornish Pirates 30

Playing this Round 8 match in theGreene King IPA Championship match away to Coventry, the Cornish Pirates emerged deserved ‘May Day’ winners at the Butts Park Arena, reports Phil Westren.                                                

Performing for the first time this season on a plastic pitch, changes in the Cornish Pirates line-up saw starting returns for the front-row of Marlen Walker, Dan Frost and Jay Tyack, along with lock Danny Cutmore and No. 8 Tom Duncan, who once again took over the skipper’s armband. With John Stevens picking up a knock the previous week, Antonio Kiri Kiri was selected at open-side flanker. In the backs, there was also a first start in Pirates’ colours for fly-half Arwel Robson, plus a fit again Shae Tucker returned at inside centre to partner Rory Parata. With several wingmen presently injured, Will Butler moved out onto the wing.

Obviously looking to bounce back from their disappointing home defeat against Ampthill, the Cornish Pirates started well. Good work at the breakdown by Kiri Kiri led to a penalty award some 30 metres out, with it Robson who was called up to duly slot the opportunity offer. He did.

An in-form Coventry side, who likely fancied their chances of upsetting the Pirates, responded to show their potential, and after lock Nile Dacres unfortunately fumbled the ball over the line it was not long before they opened their account. A strong carry by their experienced skipper Ryan Burrows, followed by a fine pass by-half Tony Fenner and an excellent run from wing Will Butts, ended with supporting prop James Harper enthusiastically cantering over for a try that Fenner then converted.

From the restart both hooker Frost and Duncan carried well for the Pirates before Duncan was forced off through injury. Yes, it was frustrating, however Paddy Ryan proved an able replacement and there was an extra plus when Parata received the ball and immediately took space on offer to breeze in for a converted try to the left of the posts.

Robson was displaying his all-round ability, including making a clever break. Support was unable to reach him but when a scrum penalty was awarded his successful kick made it 13-7 to the Pirates.

Injury woes for the Cornish side though continued, as scrum-half Alex Schwarz also had to depart proceedings, and to seemingly make matters worse the team then went down to 14 men after Kiri Kiri was yellow-carded.

Coventry applied considerable pressure and should have scored but for a Burrows non tap of a penalty kick. A good spot from an assistant referee had noticed that the player’s boot had not made contact with the ball and there was no further score before half-time.

The first half had seen several momentum shifts, so how would the second forty go? One thing known, is that it was surely still too close to call. From a Pirates perspective they also needed not to be called out and punished by the referee for time wasting, which had happened more than once.

Four minutes in and an excellent penalty strike from Robson extended the Pirates lead. This, however, seemed to spur the home side to up their effort, and it was perhaps no surprise when wing Will Butt scored an unconverted try following a terrific run by full-back Louis Brown.

Now 12-16 the Pirates needed to keep their focus, which they did, with their scrum in particular proving dominant. Indeed, following a series of scrums, sound control at the back by Ryan and then at the base by replacement scrum-half Jean-Baptist Bruzulier saw a ball transfer right and a try for Robson, which he also converted to give him a personal points tally of 18 in the match.

Among replacements made, makeshift wing Rhodri Davies – normally a scrum half – would have scored but for a forward pass, and then, after an off the ball incident, full-back Tommy Wyatt was shown ‘yellow’ for making unnecessary contact with an opposition player.

There was a worry that fortune for the visitors was about to change, and especially so when Coventry flanker Adam Peters scored a converted try to the left of the posts.

Thankfully, the Pirates stayed strong, and showing considerable character put the end result beyond doubt when Kiri Kiri firstly pumped legs piston-like into Coventry’s ‘22’. His fellow Kiwi, Tucker, was then on hand to maintain the advance and score at the posts. Replacement fly-half Will Cargill added the conversion – and it was job done.

Speaking after the game Cornish Pirates’ joint head coach Gavin Cattle said:

“Credit to the boys for showing a lot of character, especially playing 20 minutes with just 14 men. We put in some good defensive sets and overall dug in deep to get what was a well-earned and deserved victory.

“Playing on a plastic pitch is different and it led to some massive collisions and a lot of pressure at the breakdown. Both sides picked up injuries and were out on their feet at the end, and I am just pleased for everyone that we just kept trucking on to register the win.

“It was an ultimately satisfying performance, especially considering the changes we have been, and were forced to make. Looking for effort and a real work ethic, which we got, there was character in abundance.”

Coventry:   15 Louis Brown, 14 Will Butt, 13 Rob Knox, 12 Andy Forsyth (23 James Martin, 62), 11 Sam Aspland-Robinson, 10 Tony Fenner, 9 Joe Snow (21 Pete White, 57); 1 Luc Jeannot (17, Toby Trinder 41), 2 Tom Doughty (16 Jordon Poole, 41), 3 James Harper (18 Phil Boulton, 56), 4 Nile Dacres, 5 Alex Woolford (19 Kailus Hutchinson, 75), 6 Sam Lewis (20 Tom Ball, 62), 7 Adam Peters, 8 Ryan Burrows (captain).

Replacement (not used):   22 Evan Mitchell

Cornish Pirates:   15 Tommy Wyatt, 14 Alex O’Meara, 13 Rory Parata, 12 Shae Tucker, 11 Will Butler (23 Rhodri Davies, 62), 10 Arwel Robson (22 Will Cargill, 70), 9 Alex Schwarz (21 Jean-Baptist Bruzulier, 27); 1 Marlen Walker (17 Jack Andrew, 62), 2 Dan Frost (16 Tom Cowan-Dickie, 69), 3 Jay Tyack (18 Sam Rodman, 70), 4 Josh Caulfield, 5 Danny Cutmore, 6 Matt Bolwell, 7 Antonio Kiri Kiri, 8 Tom Duncan (captain; 20 Paddy Ryan, 19).

Replacement (not used):   19 Cory Teague.

Yellow cards:   7 Antonio Kiri Kiri (32), 15 Tommy Wyatt (68).

Scorers:

Coventry – tries: 3 James Harper (13), 14 Will Butt (48), 7 Adam Peters, 70); cons: 10 Tony Fenner (14, 70).

Cornish Pirates – tries: 13 Rory Parata (20), 10 Arwell Robson (56), 12 Shae Tucker (73); cons: 10 Arwel Robson (21, 57), 22 Will Cargill (74);                   pens: 10 Arwel Robson (5, 26, 46).

Referee:   George Selwood

Posted in Bill's Blog


Merryn Doidge named on England’s bench to face France

Exeter Chief’s Cornish fullback/wing, Merryn Doidge is poised to win her first England cap from the bench on Friday night against France in Villeneuve d’Ascq.

This game comes just six days from the 6 Nations decider played at the Twickenham Stoop between the two sides won by England 10-6.

We wish Merryn every success for Friday evening. Well done from everyone at Trelawny’s Army.

Posted in Bill's Blog


Neil Plummer – RIP

It is with great sorrow, that we learned today of the passing of our great friend Neil Plummer.

A great and fine Cornishman has left us.

Neil, along with his wife Beatrice were great supporters of many Cornish organisations over many, many years.

He also served for many years as a Cornwall County Councillor for Lanner & Stithians.

A fluent Cornish speaker, blessed with a marvellous singing voice, his repertoire of Cornish and Celtic music was second to none.

He was also a very fine Cornish Wrassler.

For many years Neil paraded the Flag of St. Piran during the grand parade of Nations at the Inter-celtic festival in Lorient, Brittany and was held in high esteem by our Breton cousins.

Trelawny’s Army send their deepest condolences to Beatrice and the family at this sad time.

Posted in Bill's Blog


Cornwall’ great day 30 years on

A look back from the archives.

Oh yes, Cornwall!

The greatest comeback in the history of Cornish rugby sent Duchy fans delirious with delighted disbelief at the end of Saturday’s tumultuous triumph at Twickenham.

As the final whistle blew, signalling an unforgettable 29-20 victory over the White Rose of Yorkshire, the realization suddenly dawned that Cornwall had bridged an 83-year gap and become county champions for the second time. A sea of black-and-gold bedecked supporters instantly invaded Twickenham’s hallowed turf as Trelawny’s Army raced to hail their conquering heroes.

Players were hoisted shoulder-high amid scenes of joyous Cornish celebrations, before injured skipper Chris Alcock led his 15 heroes up the steps to claim the county championship trophy from the Duke of Edinburgh. The rapturous roar that greeted the players as the coveted prize was held aloft could probably have been heard in neighbouring Richmond.

Yet three-quarters of an hour earlier the cherished Cornish dream had seemed to be vanishing in the icy wind swirling round the Twickenham stands. With twenty minutes left to play, Yorkshire had just scored a controversial try to set up a seemingly unassailable 16-3 lead and leave Cornwall with a veritable mountain to climb.

But from that moment on Alcock’s army was suddenly galvanized into a gargantuan effort that saw them snatch a sensational victory from the jaws of defeat. First quicksilver scrum-half Richard Nancekivell darted over for a try, then Grant Champion landed a penalty and suddenly Cornwall were only four points adrift.

In a nail-biting, nerve-tingling climax Nancekivell raced over for the equalising try in the dying seconds, leaving Champion with a conversion attempt to clinch the title. The whole of Cornwall held its breath in anticipation, but his kick slid just wide of the right hand post.

The miss proved to be a blessing in disguise for the thousands of supporters watching at home on television all over Cornwall, as well as for the estimated 40,000 Cornish fans in the crowd, who had given the occasion a cup final atmosphere rarely seen at the home of English rugby. The players’ response in extra time was nothing short of magnificent, with Cornwall’s pack in particular firing on so many cylinders that even the famous All Blacks would have been hard pressed to stop them.

Certainly Yorkshire had no answer as veteran winger Tommy Bassett emerged from under a ruck of players to claim the try that gave Cornwall the lead for the first time in the match.

The icing on the Cornish cake came from St Ives fly-half Billy Peters, who stormed over the line in the second period of extra time to complete a momentous comeback that will live long in the annals of the game — and in the memories of all those lucky enough to have seen it.

It was heady stuff for the Duchy’s fervent fans, among whom was 103-year-old Bill Osborne of Redruth, believed to be the only man alive to have witnessed Cornwall’s last championship victory way back in 1908. With him were three generations of the Osborne family — his son Frank, 75, grandson Barry, 50, and great-grandson Simon.


The following is from the same edition of The Cornishman (April 25th, 1991). It’s the more detailed account of the match that appeared on the sports pages. It’s taken from the Penzance edition — hence the particular references to the St Ives players.

Cornwall — the glory boys!

Paul Bawden reports from Twickenham

A superb grandstand finish in extra time made Cornwall the rugby champions of England. After trailing 16-3 a quarter of an hour into the second half, on Saturday, the Duchy rallied and showed the form which took them to the Twickenham final.

What a team effort it was.

What was the spark which ignited the fire in Cornish bellies midway through the half, when all had seemed lost? The crowd of well over 30,000 Cornish supporters — Trelawny’s Army — had gone quiet at this stage, and only the beat of Falmouth Marine Band’s bass drummer could be heard.

Skipper Chris Alcock, injured early on, continued to see his side trail, and then went off for further attention. Mark Chatterton came on to play on the right wing — his best position — with Tony Mead switching inside to centre. Former St Ives player, Glyn Williams, took over as skipper, with Grant Champion leading the outsides.

Play was soon transformed, to the delight of Trelawny’s Army! Basically, the Cornish front five, apart from some penalty kicks conceded by Reed, had held their own with the bigger Yorkshire pack. The form of the Cornish front row was telling.

For almost an hour the Yorkshire side had prospered, with flankers Simon Tipping and Peter Buckton excelling, backed by Sean Bainbridge at No.8. Halfbacks Townend and Scully had the edge over Nancekivell and Peters. The Yorkshire threes, backed by Liley, were ahead of their counterparts.

Scores in the 13th, 26th and 42nd minutes had given the White Rose a lead of 10-3 at the break. Champion had kicked a penalty goal in the 40th minute after he and Peters had missed with shots at the sticks.

Fullback Liley handled twice in a move with Harrison, the former England international wing, and now Yorkshire skipper. This sent centre Johnson over for the opening score. The fullback later slotted over two penalty goals, in spite of the hisses and jeers of a minority of poor sports in Cornish colours.

Cornwall were slow, fumbled, marked poorly, and just failed to get into the match. And they shaped little better in the opening minutes of the second half. With Yorkshire piling on the pressure, a penalty was conceded from a kickable position. There was drama as Liley came forward for the kick. He was alert to advice from his skipper, Harrison, who had led Yorkshire to a win over Middlesex four seasons earlier at Twickenham. Liley tap-kicked the ball, fed to Scully, who crossed for the try as Cornwall went into a huddle. Liley converted for a 16-3 lead after 55 minutes’ play.

Many felt that this was the final nail in the Cornish coffin. How wrong the Jonahs, and certainly many of those in the press box, were.

Cornwall came back slowly. Williams was inspired, Nancekivell was productive. From a scrum Nancekivell scurried over for Champion to add the extras. With 15 minutes left, could Cornwall work that old rugby wizardry and score at least twice for victory?

Champion missed with a shot at the posts. Chatterton made a dash down the wing, but touch judge Howard intervened — a foot had gone into touch. Champion, however, booted a penalty to make it 16-12 with just minutes left. A charged-down kick set up a scrum, and Nancekivell, playing superbly, went over for the try, making it 16-all.

Could Champion, under the most intense pressure possible, kick the match-winning conversion? The answer, alas, was no. The police officer, easily Cornwall’s top points scorer, fired to the left of the posts. Extra time of ten minutes each way had to be played.

And Cornwall were on the rampage! Each and every player rose to the occasion, while the sea of black and gold yelled itself hoarse.

Cornwall’s hour had come. Williams, Dawe, Keast, May and Reed were magnificent. Dawe showed international class.

Champion faced the posts, once more, for a penalty, and his kick was spot on. St Ives’ Tommy Bassett was all over the pitch, playing the game of his life. He joined the forwards in a surge to the line which brought a try for a 7-point lead at the halfway stage of extra time.

More drama followed in the early moments of the final period, with Billy Peters, another of the St Ives players, going over for a try. Coolly, Champion converted for a 29-16 lead. It was fantastic, with 26 Cornish points coming in as many minutes.

The third St Ives man in the side, Jason Atkinson, was in cracking form.

Cornwall were virtually unassailable, but Yorkshire showed some of that Cornish spirit. In the dying minutes the Yorkshiremen ran the ball wide, at pace, for right winger Harrison to go over in the corner. Liley hit the upright with his conversion, and the final whistle from referee Mr Roger Quittenton, of the Sussex London Society, opened the floodgates for a sea of black and gold to swamp the pitch.

Justice was done, Cornwall had stuck to their task. Inspired by Glyn Williams, they had won the county title for the first time in 83 years.

Scorers:

Cornwall:

tries, R. Nancekivell (2), T. Bassett, W. Peters; penalty goals, Champion (3); conversions, Champion (2).

Yorkshire:

tries, Johnson, Scully, Harrison; penalty goals, Liley (2); conversion, Liley.

Teams:

Cornwall:

K. Thomas, A. Mead (Plymouth Albion), C. Alcock, capt. (Royal Navy and Camborne) (replaced by M. Chatterton (Exeter) in the 56th minute), G. Champion (Devon and Cornwall police), T. Bassett, W. Peters (St Ives), R. Nancekivell (Northampton), J. May (Redruth), G. Dawe (Bath), R. Keast (Redruth), A. Reed (Bath), M. Wesson (Plymouth Albion), G. Williams (Redruth), A. Bick (Plymouth Albion), J. Atkinson (St Ives).

Yorkshire:

J. Liley (Leicester), M. Harrison, capt. (Wakefield), J. Georgiou (Halifax), P. Johnson (Headingley), E. Atkins (Harrogate and the Army), S. Townend, D. Scully (Wakefield), J. Woodthorpe (Harrogate), S. Cruise, R. Burman (Wakefield), I. Carroll (Otley), S. Croft (Harrogate), S. Tipping (Otley), P. Buckton (Liverpool St Helens), S. Bainbridge (Morley).

A link to the interviews aired by BBC Radio Cornwall, compiled by Ross Ellis to mark the 30th anniversary of Cornwall’s historic win


Posted in Bill's Blog


County Championship Survey

County Championship survey
We are contacting you to help us understand the views and opinions of all individuals in the community game on the County Championship competition.

The results of this survey will feed into the independent review of the County Championship across the senior men’s, senior women’s and men’s U20 competitions, which has been commissioned by the Community Game Board (CGB) and aims to take all feedback into consideration before providing recommendations/options to the CGB on the future and format of the competition.

This survey should take no longer than 10 minutes to complete, and will close at midnight on Sunday 25 April 2021.
P.S.
You are all members of Cornwall RFU as far as filling the form goes.
Take Survey
Posted in Bill's Blog


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