Cornish rugby increasingly on the outer-edge

It’s always been the case really due to our geography, the far south-west must seem like a different world to those “up country!”

And so we like to be. As with everything, it has its positives and negatives. Sadly the world doesn’t stop at the Tamar!

When it comes to league rugby, the biggest bugbear has been and remains the cost of travel and accommodation, though in increasing cases the accommodation has been ditched in favour of early morning starts and early morning returns, and we wonder why the majority of Cornish clubs don’t do better playing away!

Last Saturday the travel problem was brilliantly illustrated at Camborne, when Chard got held up in the half-term traffic compounded with an accident on the A30. Thankfully the clocks didn’t go back until the next day and despite a 4 o’clock kick-off, a sunny afternoon and the briefest of half-time breaks, the game was completed, just! That was for a team coming to Cornwall from a relatively short distance.

The balance of clubs in National League 2 South has seen a surge in the number of clubs from the London and south-east to the cost of clubs further west….literally!

Invariably, apart from the winners of National League 3 SW & SE, the play-off winner from the runners-up always seems to be from the south-east, where the clubs appear to have greater financial support/backing and player base than those further west. The trend looks set to continue next season.

There has been talk of reforming the leagues and making them more regionalised, but that has been kicked into the long grass thanks to the clubs “up north”.

I spoke to former Redruth captain Damien Cook this week, following the Cornwall Development game at Penzance.

His former club announced that he had decided to stop playing National League rugby, though in some quarters it was taken that he had stopped playing altogether, which is not the case.

There are various factors that have lead to Cook’s decision, some which are between the player and the club and I have no intention, nor is it my brief, of divulging those here, but a major factor in his decision is the travelling and the amount of time involved. It is understandable that after many, many seasons of travelling, and let’s face it Cook has travelled with the Reds to far-flung places such as Blaydon and Tynedale, the novelty starts wear a little thin.

“The commitment to play National League rugby these days is massive,” said Cook, who added, “They say it’s for the south-west clubs, but we are increasingly having more games in the south-east, for the commitment required for me to play at Redruth I have difficulties meeting due to a new job where I am based in Penryn, which is a long commute from down where I live, that means less time with my family which is not ideal. It’s not unknown to get up at 4:30 am to travel to the south-east, play a game and get home the next morning!

“There are some good quality youngsters coming up and for an older player like myself you have to be committed to working harder to maintain the level of fitness needed to compete, which sadly I can no longer give.”

Cook still hopes to play club rugby, albeit at a lower level, and still harbours hopes of playing a part in Cornwall’s campaign this season: “It’s a bit soon to see where I will be playing next. Last Thursday I told the Redruth boys of my decision, which as you can imagine was not easy either for myself or them.

“As far as Cornwall goes, I happy to be involved if selected. Make no bones the competition for selection has increased greatly over the past couple of seasons.”

Posted in Bill's Blog

Pirates too good for Cornish Development XV

Match report by Bill Hooper, photos Simon Bryant Iktis photo

Photo Cornish Pirates skipper Tom Duncan takes on the Cornwall pack

The Cornish Pirates ran in nine tries in a sparkling performance against a Cornwall Development side under the lights of the Mennaye

The game was a chance for both camps to run the rule over fringe players and those on the road back to full match fitness following lengthy injury.

Cornwall coach Ian Morgan was pleased with the efforts shown by his squad after just a single training session together: “The stand out moment for me was at the end there where we went through ten phases of play against a professional outfit, the players can take that back to their clubs and work on it.

“I think all twenty-six players that played can take a bow tonight. We had a mix of players who will be competing for both the senior and under 20 squads this season. At times with such a large squad it can be difficult to keep continuity but they all to a man stuck at it.

“In both upcoming campaigns we have got some hard games but I think you saw tonight players coming through. I feel we have a good set-up in both camps. We need experienced players like Damien Cook to guide the youngsters. Last season players like George Jones and Jon Dawe came through and from what I’ve seen tonight there are players there that can come through and make a contribution to Cornwall’s campaign.”

There was a late call up for former Redruth skipper Damien Cook, who contrary to popular belief has not completely retired from the game, but has called time on his National League career.

Photo – Damien Cook came on as a replacement for Cornwall

It didn’t take long for the Pirates to get the first points on the board. Following good work by centre Max Bodilly, taking play into the Cornwall twenty-two, the ball was re-cycled and moved along the line for winger Kyle Moyle to dive in at the Newlyn Gate corner.

Fly-half Laurence May couldn’t add the extras on this occasion but he was on target just a few minutes later adding the extras to the first of skipper Tom Duncan’s brace of tries, as the big No.8 drove over from short-range.

Duncan scored again with a trademark pick-up from the base of the scrum from five meters out, with May bettering the score for 19-0 with barely 20 minutes on the clock.

Cornwall got some go-forward ball earning a penalty that “Eggy” Williams kicked to the corner. From the catch and drive in the murk in the scoreboard corner, referee Kevin Williams spotted a Pirates’ infringement and awarded a penalty try converted by Williams.

Photo – St. Austell’s Ben Chenoweth on the charge

Despite Cornwall making the first of multiple changes during the game, the Pirates were soon back in command scoring two further tries before half-time through flanker Sam Simmonds and hooker Jack Innard, May adding a further conversion for a 31-7 score-line.

The Pirates emptied their bench as well during the second half, but were still too good for a worthy Cornwall side running in a further four tries through Oulton, lock Will Graulich winger Kieran Goss and Simmonds, who also grabbed a second try.

Pirates director of rugby Ian Davies was pleased with his side’s performance and felt that many had put their hand up for a place not just for the forthcoming British & Irish Cup ties but also their next Championship game at Moseley.

Cornish Pirates: B Hopkin (R Brownfield 79), K Moyle (N Sixton 64), M Bodilly (R Coote 64), B Bartlett (T Hendrickson 53), A O’Mera (K Goss 45), L May, J Oulton (T James 58); T Gendall (G Collenette 70), J Innard (T-L Southworth 79), F Deformes (J Tyack ht), W Graulich, B Beukeboom ( B Howe 28), D Lee, S Simmonds, T Duncan (Capt).

Cornish Pirates scores: Tries – Moyle, Duncan (2), Simmonds (2), Innard, Oulton, Graulich, Goss, Conversions – May (5), Bartlett, Hopkin

Cornwall Dev XV: C Williams, J Kessell, J Simmons, D Tout, B Chenoweth, R Kevern, D Rutter; L Chapman, B Taylor (Capt), J Drew, T Whittle, P Hamber, T Simmons, M Grubb, N Stanleick.

Replacements (all used): M Davey, J Tompsett, A Zacharovas, B Trevaskis, D Cook, A Hughes, G Randlesome, B Roberts, T Peacock, A Coad, J Wilson.

Cornwall Dev XV scores: Penalty-try, Conversion – Williams

Referee: Kevin Williams (Cornwall RRS)

Crowd: 200

Man-of-the-match Tom Duncan, good to see the No.8 back in action following a long running injury, hopefully a better season lies ahead.

Posted in Bill's Blog

Cornwall pick mixed squad for Pirates’ test

Photo – Tony Whittle (Camborne)

Following last month’s game against a Plymouth Albion Development XV, a further game is planned on Friday 30 October v. a Cornish Pirates Development XV. This game will also see the inclusion of U20 players as well as established players from around the County. An initial squad of 40 players from 14 different Cornish clubs were invited to train at St Austell RFC under coaches Graham Dawe, Ian Morgan and strength and conditioning coach James “Earpy” Earp.

The Cornwall Development XV will play the Cornish Pirates Development XV at the Mennaye Field, Penzance, under lights with a 19:45 kick off time.

CRFU Chair Denis Preece said: “This is an important part of players progressing from the under 20 level and, players from clubs who have the potential for pushing senior players for positions in the full county squad. It is great to see so many clubs invited to attend and shows that the CRFU is casting its net far and wide.”

Cornwall Coach Graham Dawe said: “We really appreciate the help and assistance clubs and club coaches have given us in releasing the players for the training and the fixture. We also hope that the additional coaching will be taken back to their club teams, which may help the clubs progress as well” He went on to say; – “We have set two dates where we will be working alongside the RFU development officers within the county, where we hope that players will be able to attend to receive coaching that will help them develop and increase their skills and may encourage some to re-join, or stay playing rugby within their clubs.”

Cornwall U20 team manager Chris Lea commented: “It is a fantastic opportunity for these U20 guys to have been selected and have the opportunity to play alongside more experienced players from around the county. We have had a great deal of interest again this season and are putting together a good squad although we have a tough pool stage. I am sure there are other guys out there who are eligible, and if clubs have players who they think would be eligible and suitable then it is not too late for them to be considered, please send any nominations to in the first instance.”


Cornish Pirates:
15 Bertie Hopkin, 14 Alex O’Meara, 13 Max Bodilly, 12 Bar Bartlett
11 Kyle Moyle, 10 Laurence May, 9 Jack Oulton
1 Tyler Gendall, 2 Jack Innard, 3 Francisco Deformes, 4 Will Graulich
5 Brett Beukeboom, 6 Dan Lee, 7 Sam Simmonds, 8 Tom Duncan (capt).

Tommy Lee Southworth, George Collenette, Jay Tyack, Brad Howe, Tom James, Tom Hendrickson, Rob Coote, Rhys Brownfield, Kieran Goss, Noah Sixton.

Cornwall Development XV
[table th=”0″]
1, Luke Chapman, Cornish All Blacks
2, Ben Taylor (Captain), St Ives
3, Jon Drew, Redruth
4, Tony Whittle, Camborne
5, Paul Hamber, Cornish All Blacks/Plymouth Albion
6, Tom Simmons, Falmouth
7, Mark Grubb, Wadebridge
8, Neil Stanleick, Cornish All Blacks/Cornish Pirates
9, Dan Rutter, Redruth
10, Richard Kevern, Camborne
11, Ben Chenoweth, St Austell
12, Duncan Tout, Bude
13, Jack Simmons, Camborne
14, Jack Kessell, Redruth
15, Ben Stean, Camborne/Plymouth Albion
16, Miles Davey, St Austell
17, Jess Tompsett, St Ives
18, Andruis Zacharovas, Camborne
19, Ben Trevaskis, Penryn
20, Adam Hughes, Penryn
21, Grant Randlesome, Penryn
22, Billy Roberts, Bude
23, Taron Peacock, Camborne
24, Craig Williams, Truro
25, Andrew Coad, Bodmin
26, Will Pengelly, Wadebridge Camels
27, Joe Wilson, Bude
[/table]Coaches – Graham Dawe & Ian Morgan
Strength & Conditioning – James “Earpy” Earp

Posted in Bill's Blog

Cook’s retirement a huge loss to Redruth & Cornwall

News that lock Damien Cook had announced his immediate retirement from rugby has rocked the rugby world in Cornwall.

The popular Cook, a mainstay of the Cornish pack in recent seasons, was made captain of his club Redruth this season, taking over from Chris Fuca.

Cook played for Cornwall on twenty-four occasions over a nine-year period.

He made his county debut in Cornwall’s 30-0 win over Devon at Penryn in the Tamar Cup in February 2004 and made his County Championship debut as a replacement in Cornwall’s 41-13 win over Middlesex at Redruth that May, whilst playing for the Hayle club.

Soon after he moved up the road to Redruth and the start of a long a fruitful chapter in his rugby career.

He would go on to play in three county finals 2013, 2014 and 2015, having previously played in the under 20 final loss to Hampshire in 2002.

The Bill Beaumont Cup success last May was to prove the crowning moment of his county career.

Posted in Bill's Blog

Pirates must target Moseley win, Camborne send Chard packing

The Cornish Pirates slipped to another defeat at home on Saturday, this time to league pace-setters Bristol by 40-10 in the Greene King Championship.

It was Bristol’s first success at the Mennaye since 2004 and was built on a good forward domination plus the cultured boot of Gavin Henson. Olly Robinson dotted down three of his side’s six tries.

Joe Atkinson scored the Pirates’ only try converted by Kieran Hallett, who also slotted a penalty.

Friday week is a massive game for the Pirates when they travel to play Moseley, a fixture and venue that hasn’t been very successful of late for the Cornishmen.

In National League 2 South, defeat for both our sides. The Cornish All Blacks chiselled out a losing bonus point going down 20-16 at home to Dorking. Full-back Issac Hydleman scored a couple of tries and Chris Swash kicked two penalties.

Redruth gave Old Albanian a good run before picking up injuries and conceding some late scores to finally succumb 34-15.

Nelly Webber, Dan Rutter and Brad Janes all scored un-converted tries for the Reds.

In Tribute South West 1 West visitors Chard were caught up in traffic meaning a delayed kick-off of 4 pm.

They probably wished they had stayed on the coach as the Cherry and Whites ran in seven tries to win 46-0. Tries were scored by Sam Matavesi (2), Gareth Mankee, Richie Kevern (pictured), Sam Bartle, Harvey Jones and Taron Peacock. Kevern kicked the rest of the points.

The win put Camborne second in the table before their next game at Clevedon.

In Tribute Western Counties West, Saltash are the best placed Cornish side following their 33-28 win over St. Austell at Moorlands. Callum Cload (2), Shaun Crawford, and Phil Eatwell scored tries for the Ashes with Max Venables kicking 13 points.

For the Saints Josh Phillips, Andy Inch (2) and Paul Winterbottom scored tries with Cavan Boyer kicking the rest of the points.

A bad day for Wadebridge Camels who were thrashed 60-0 at home by Exeter University.

Penryn also drew a blank at Tiverton going down 31-0 and are now propping up the table.

Truro continued their patchy form losing at home to Sidmouth 32-17.

Up in London our exiles are now top of the table following their 29-6 win at Cobham in London 2 SW. Stefan Duda (2), Mike Bond and Tom Jeffery scored the tries with Phillip Dale kicking a penalty and three conversions. Well done to all at London Cornish keep it going.

In the Tribute Cornwall & Devon League, Bude thumped Newquay Hornets 79-12 in the surfers’ paradise derby! Bude ran in 13 tries with Duncan Tout getting three of them, Dan Pearce landed six conversions as well as scoring two tries.

Leaders Withycombe beat Hayle 34-3.

St. Ives defeated Tavistock 53-17 and remain third in the table.

Falmouth are just behind following their narrow 24-22 win at Bodmin thanks to a late Justyn Irons penalty.

Pirates Amateurs also had a narrow away win this time at Plymouth Argaum 10-8. Mike Roach with the crucial try.

It was the opening round of pool games in the Tribute Cornwall Clubs Cup. All the results are on the results section.

So the Rugby World Cup is now down to the final two with the holders New Zealand set to defend their title against their Taman Sea neighbours Australia. It promises to be a great tussle next Saturday between the Kiwis and the Wallabies.

Don’t forget on Friday evening at the Mennaye kick-off 7:45 pm Cornish Pirates XV take on a Cornwall Development XV entry is £5 kids £1.

Posted in Bill's Blog

Cornwall Under 20s fixtures released

Photo – Last season’s U20 squad that reached the semi-finals

Cornwall Under 20s fixtures for the 2016 Under 20 County Championship have been released.

They have been drawn in Pool 4 along with old foes Devon, Gloucestershire and last season’s finalists Berkshire.

Cornwall face two games on the road before they play their only pool game at home against Devon.

Sunday 7th February v Berkshire (Away)

Sunday 28th February v Gloucestershire (Away)

Sunday 13th March v Devon (Home)

Venues for games to be confirmed.

The top two sides qualify for the quarter-finals with the winner of Pool 4 at home to the runner-up of Pool 3

Winners of Pool 3 will host the runners up from Pool 4. Ties to be played on Sunday 27th March.

Pool 3 consists of Eastern Counties, Hertfordshire, Kent and Surrey.

The semi-finals are scheduled for Sunday April 10th with the final at Twickenham on Sunday 7th May.

Posted in Bill's Blog

Borough dump Saints out of the Cup

Three Tribute Cornwall Cup quarter-finals were played on Saturday with the winners joining St. Ives in the semi-final due to be played in February.

Mind you it was touch and go at Penryn as the game was delayed when it became apparent that no referee was going to turn up. Luckily Jonathan Plummer stepped in and the game was played.

Penryn got off to a great start and led 19-0 at half-time thanks to tries from Will Payne, Andy Seviour and Josh Chambers with a couple of conversions from Nathan Strick.

No. 8 Grant Randlesome added a fourth try after half-time with Strick kicking a penalty at a vital time just as St. Austell mounted a bit of a comeback thanks to a hat-trick of tries from Cavan Hayne with Liam Freeman adding a conversion.

Borough will entertain St. Ives in the semis.

Up at Wadebridge, the Camels squeezed past Saltash in good game 15-10. Chris Humphery and Will Pengelly scored tries for the Camels with James Grubb kicking a penalty and conversion. For Saltash, Ryan Cruickshanks scored a try with Todd Crofts, deputising for the unavailable Max Venables kicking the conversion and a penalty.

Wadebridge will host holders Camborne in the last four, Town squeezed past a valiant Bude side 20-18, which saw Bude’s Dan Pearce miss a last gasp penalty!

Ben Jordan, Jay Tyack and Tom Hinds scored tries for the Cherry and Whites with Richie Kevern knocking over a penalty and conversion.

For Bude, Adam Black (2) and James Comber scored tries with Pearce adding just the one penalty.

In the Greene-King Championship, the Cornish Pirates failed to build on their win from last week as they lost at Doncaster 28-11. Lock Will Graulich scored a try, whilst fly-half Kieran Hallett landed a couple of penalties.

Redruth made it three wins on the road this season with a 23-17 in at Dorking, which apparently wasn’t much to the liking of the locals!

The Redruth packed proved to be the cornerstone of the win. Tries came from Matt Gidlow and a good old penalty-try, whilst Dave Mankee’s boot added the other points.

The Cornish All Blacks didn’t get their first win of the season, but they did pick up their first points in 33-31 defeat at Polson to visitors Barnes.

Tries were scored by Isaac Hydleman, Lewis Edwards, Jamie Salter, Rhys Brownfield and Eddie McGinley with conversions from Rhys Brownfield (2) and Chris Swash.

There was a full program in Tribute Cornwall 1, Camborne School of Mines defeated Helston on the reserve pitch at Penryn 68-5 to go top of the table.

Illogan Park join them on 10 points following their 32-10 win at St. Agnes.

Liskeard-Looe defeated visitors Lanner 30-9 at Lux Park, whilst Veor got back to winning ways with a 36-8 win over Perranporth.

Launceston 2 remain top of the Duchy League following their 42-0 win at Camels 2.

In the Trelawny’s Army Colts League, Helston remain top after four wins.

This Saturday sees the start of the Tribute Cornwall Clubs Cup fixtures.

Posted in Bill's Blog

Bizarre ending at Redruth sees home win

Photo – Tommy Phillips receives his Under 20 Cornwall Player of the Year award from CRFU Chairman Denis Preece

A frenetic weekend that saw me on Saturday at Redruth and then on Sunday at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff for bone crunching Pool D decider between Ireland and France.

Back at Redruth, and a welcome win for the Reds against a very lively Chinnor side in National League 2 South.

The game marked a return to the Recreation for scrum-half Greg Goodfellow, now plying his trade with the “Villagers”.

The game was tight with the Reds winning 34-32, and ended in bizarre fashion, when the visitors were pressing but their prop miss-heard a call, kicking the ball dead with the final play much to the consternation of his team-mates and the unbridled joy of the Redruth players and supporters.

Redruth tries were scored by lock Luke Hattam, hooker Tom Cowan-Dickie (2), centre Sam Parsons and flanker Shaun Buzza, with Dave Mankee, making his league debut for the Reds kicking three conversions and a penalty.

Sadly it’s still the same story for the Cornish All Blacks as they slipped to their sixth straight defeat going down at Old Elthamians 49-11. Ryan Westren scored their try with Rhys Brownfield kicking a couple of penalties.

The next two weeks will be pivotal for the All Blacks, as they have two home games on the trot.

In Tribute South West 1 West, Camborne maintained their good run with fourth win, this time beating North Petherton 24-18. Ben Kemp, Jack Simmons (2) and Sam Bartle all crossed for the Cherry and Whites, with Ben Stean adding a couple of conversions.

In Tribute Western Counties West, Truro caused a surprise with a spirited win at St. Austell 13-9. Scrum-half Danny Dunstan and prop Ethan Patterson scored tries for the City side, with Toby Armstrong kicking a penalty. For the Saints, Andy Ashwin kicked three penalties. Both sides lost players to a red card, with Adam Kellow (St. Austell) and Darren Jacques (Truro) being sent for an early shower.

Saltash defeated Wadebridge Camels 45-38 at Moorlands. Tries by Ryan Rayner, Todd Crofts, Will Morton, Callum Cload, Jason Carroll and Sean Crawford were all converted by Max Venables, who also kicked a penalty.

For the Camels, prop Ian Burnard (2), James Grubb (2) and Mark Grubb scored tries with James Grubb kicking all five conversions and a penalty. Both sides meet again this weekend in the Tribute Cornwall Cup!

Penryn lost at home to Exeter University 38-15.

In London 2 SW, London Cornish won 49-12 at home to Winchester. The exiles scored tries through prop Mike Bond, flanker Tom Ievers, lock Ben Ievers, centres Craig Chatley and Luke Spells and wing Tom Jeffery, whilst their first try was a penalty-try award, fly-half Philip Dale landed all seven conversions.

In Tribute Cornwall and Devon League, Falmouth caused an upset defeating St. Ives 12-6 at the Rec. Josh Symons and Justyn Irons scored tries for the Eagles, with Irons kicking a conversion. Grant Thirlby kicked two penalties for the Hakes.

St. Ives are through to the semi-finals of the Tribute Cornwall Cup, as Hayle have withdrawn.

Hayle defeated Bodmin 19-8. Tries for the Lions were scored by Joel Cameron (2) and Ashley White with Damien Lynnes kicking a couple of conversions. For Bodmin, Cody Armstrong scored a try and Jamie Taylor a penalty.

Bude lost for the first time this season 23-20 at Tavistock. Adam Black (2), James Comber and Joe Wilson all scored tries for Bude.

Bude will entertain Camborne this Saturday in the Cornwall Cup.

Pirates Amateurs slipped up at Plymstock 20-13 and Newquay Hornets lost at the Sportscentre 29-0 to Plymouth Argaum.

The opening round of games in both Tribute Cornwall 1 & 2 saw Camborne School of Mines beat Veor 59-3, Lanner defeat Perranporth 32-0 at Tregenver Road in Falmouth, Illogan Park get the better of Liskeard-Looe 36-21 and Helston defeat St. Agnes 24-7.

In Cornwall 2, Roseland beat Stithians 36-0, Lankelly-Fowey defeated Redruth Albany 62-21 and St. Just won at Camelford 19-14.

On Sunday in the Greene-King Championship, Cornish Pirates got their first win in five games with an excellent 21-17 win against London Scottish at the Mennaye.

Rheon James and Craig Holland scored tries with Kieran Hallett adding a conversion and three penalties.

It was just the boost the Pirates needed, and with their Canadian Internationals set to return post rugby World Cup, results should improve rapidly.

The much-heralded Duchy League for second teams also got under way last Saturday. There were wins for the Camborne 38-17 against the Camels, Launceston 66-29 Truro, St. Austell 53-17 at Newquay Hornets and Redruth 33-26 at Penryn.

Posted in Bill's Blog

Wallaby “Chuck” Remembered

By Phil Westren, Cornish Pirates’ media officer

The visit made to Cornwall by the 1947-48 ‘Wallabies’ has often been highlighted, and over the years a number of players in that particular tour party have also on occasions revisited a place where there were happy memories to recall.

Ahead of their 1947-48 tour of Great Britain, Ireland, France, Canada and the USA, the Wallabies based themselves in Penzance from 27th August – 15th September 1947. Their captain was Bill McLean, Trevor Allan was the vice-skipper, and a star winger was one C.C. Eastes, who was known as ‘Chuck’.

Chuck’s son John and grandson Darren are presently in the United Kingdom to support Australia in the Rugby World Cup, and taking time out to head to Cornwall they called by the Pirates ‘Westholme’ clubhouse, just out of interest, to see where Chuck trained back in 1947.

Club archivist Phil Westren and Zoe Leray were delighted to welcome the Australian pair, who had arrived unannounced and were on a sportingly-hidden high following Australia’s convincing win against England at Twickenham on Saturday.

Surveying the Mennaye Field ground and then the clubhouse John and Darren were taken aback to see how much information there was on file in relation to the 1947-48 tour, including a wonderful photo of wing Chuck, seen in full flight at Camborne, when he starred for the Wallabies in their 17-7 points victory against Cornwall & Devon.

Looking back to that 1947-48 tour there is so much to recall with reference to tourists whose journey to our shores took a little over five weeks aboard P&O’s “Orion”, arriving in London on Sunday 24 August, and then Penzance by the Wednesday, where they were to stay for nearly three weeks to finalise their preparation. It was with great pleasure that the Borough welcomed the tour party to the Duchy, there being a very close connection between Cornwall and Australia. In an official statement, Mayor Trezise, Barrie Bennetts and Mavis Lawry wrote that thousands of our tin miners went out to try their luck, and to settle in the mining districts of Ballarat, Bendigo, Kalgoorlie and Broken Hill, and took with them their love of rugby football. Large numbers of Cornishmen had also been honoured to serve alongside Australia’s splendid troops in Gallipoli, Tobruk and countless other theatres of service. The statement also mentioned that Cornwall would be unable to entertain the visitors “as we would like to”, it a time when virtually all food rations were cut, our islands still recovering from six years of war. However, the tour party were comfortably housed in the Marine Hotel (now ‘The Lugger’), the comment also made that that the food and hospitality were first class!

Extracts from Australian papers record that the Pirates arranged a wide range of entertainment to host the ‘Wallabies’, and lifelong friendships were forged. Swimming, golf, sailing, bowling, squash, cricket and billiard facilities were placed at their disposal, with the tourists also admitted free to cinemas, dance halls and theatres.

When training at the Mennaye Field each morning, there was a live Wallaby named ‘Digger’ (lent by London Zoo at the Pirates’ request) that was housed alongside the ground, and which on one occasion mysteriously escaped – helping fitness levels to be upped when it was apparently chased all over Penzance!

The Wallabies first game was played at the Recreation Ground, Camborne, on 13 September 1947, against a combined Cornwall & Devon team that had been selected by a joint committee of the two county unions under the chairmanship of Barrie Bennetts, a try-scorer in Cornwall’s historic first County Championship Final win against Durham in 1908, and who was also capped twice by England in 1909.

There were reckoned to be in excess of 20,000 people crammed in the ‘Rec’ when the teak-like flanker Bill McLean led his team out to face the combined counties side skippered by Redruth’s Les Semmens. The Wallabies were well held by the westcountry forwards on the day but the speed and sureness of their backs gave them an ultimately deserved 17-7 points victory.

A Wallabies tour that started at Camborne would end over five months later with a game against the University of Stanford, at Palo Alto, California. The overall playing record was P 41, W 35, L 6, For 712, Against 276.

Of interest, as a ‘Thank You’ from the Aussies for the wonderful time they were given during their three weeks’ stay in Cornwall, they presented the Pirates with Digger’s stuffed equivalent, ‘Walter’, which still holds a place of honour in the ‘Westholme’ clubhouse in Alexandra Road. If you haven’t met him yet, then call by sometime, and introduce yourself – John and Darren did!

Back to Chuck, he was unfortunately injured after playing just eight matches on the tour, and his loss was described as a ‘tragedy’, because everyone who played against him or saw him play commented on his skill and fitness, as surely one of the best three-quarters of all time.

Chuck served in the RAAF, and besides representing Australia played for the Manly club and for New South Wales. Unanimously elected the first President of the Sydney RUC, other honours included being President of NSWRU, a Vice President of the Australian RFU, and Manager of the Wallabies side that toured South Africa in 1969. He was a recipient of the Queen’s ‘Silver Jubilee’ Award, and was also, in 1977, made an MBE.

Having passed away back in 1995, aged 70, Chuck was inducted into the Wallaby Hall of Fame in 2013. That was a proud occasion for the Eastes family, including his wife Anne who is still alive and is the only surviving lady Life Member of the ARU.

As for son John, like his dad he too is a former Manly player, who also had a spell playing for Harlequins in the early 1970s. Contacting the Pirates following his visit, John commented:

“Thanks for the hospitality extended to me and Darren. It was fabulous to be shown around your great, and proud club, and I can’t believe there are such extensive records from a tour that took place so long ago.”

John added:

“Our visit provided a truly memorable experience. No wonder dad spoke so highly of his time in Cornwall and the hospitality that was extended to him and his fellow Wallabies.”

Posted in Bill's Blog

“Pirates’ legends” by Steve Tomlin – ideal for Christmas

Steve’s latest book “Cornish Pirates Legends” is being launched on 15 October (2015), and as you would expect it is an extremely well-researched tome on some of the greats of the club, not just from the current era but stretching all the way back to Barrie Bennetts from the famous Cornwall 1908 Championship winning side.

Kendall-Carpenter, “Ginger” Williams, Harvey Richards, Graham Paul, Peter Mitchell, “Stack” Stevens: the list of whose who at the Pirates from yesteryear goes on right up to the modern day heroes, Victor Olonga, Heino Senekal, Matt Jess, Rhodri McAtee, Gavin Cattle and the indomitable Paves, to name just a few.

Not just the players but the coaches too, Kevin Moseley, Jim McKay, Chris Stirling and Ian Davies.

I found the book compulsive easy to read, one that you had difficulty putting down, such it was interesting and compelling.

It’s certainly a book that any Cornish rugby enthusiast would love to be able to refer to off their book shelf.

Steve’s comments on the sleeve of the book:

“Cornwall has long been recognised as being one of the hotbeds of English rugby, enjoying a level of interest and support even outstripping that of football. Ten years ago, Penzance and Newlyn rebranded itself as the Cornish Pirates and now operates as the only truly professional sports team in the area. Despite its remote location and low population base it has nevertheless recently twice won national knock-out trophies and twice more reached play-off finals of the Rugby Championship – just one tier below the Premiership.

Ex-player Steve Tomlin’s latest book details the lives and playing careers of forty-six leading players and four senior coaches covering both the amateur and professional eras of the club. It is almost entirely based on a series of detailed interviews with the players themselves – or with their colleagues and families if they are no longer with us.

Many of those featured played at international level whilst others remained as heroes in their own backyard. It gives a fascinating and often hilarious insight into the lives, pressures, achievements and disappointments of rugby players of different generations and varying backgrounds.”

True Legends are featured, from ‘Stack’ Stevens to Alan Paver and Gavin Cattle, plus current favourites Laurie McGlone, Rob Elloway and Chris Morgan and many more. Coaches from Jim McKay to Chris Stirling are given equal treatment. A true history of special Pirates one and all.

A series of launch events and personal appearances by Steve are planned:

  • 15 October – FOCR City of London lunch with John Inverdale & Jason Leonard
  • 22 October – an evening in the ‘Westholme’ Clubhouse, Penzance (starts 7.30pm)
  • 23 October – Bustopher Jones in Truro host an evening’s celebration

Around these events, Steve will be undertaking a series of media appearances to promote the book.

Ideal as Christmas presents!

Attend one of the launch functions and buy a signed copy (£12.99 each) or place an order (£17.00, incl p&p) with Zoe Leray at

This is a great way to support the Pirates and another initiative to raise much needed funds for our future development as we continue our journey.

Posted in Bill's Blog

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