Ian Connell delighted enabling vote passed

There was naturally great delight from the Cornish Pirates after the decision of Cornwall Council Strategic Planning Committee yesterday, with Cornish Pirates’ Chairman Ian Connell quick to praise the outcome of the vote.

Cornish Pirates are absolutely delighted that we now have consent for the Stadium for Cornwall. This is a major infrastructure project creating jobs, generating new revenues but importantly adopting the vision for the realisation of ambition. This is a good day.

From a Pirates’ perspective, the Board can now begin to view the future with clarity over where we will be playing and begin the process to build on our existing great supporter base and to attract new sponsorship incomes. We can now plan to progressively build the playing squad to compete at the top end of the Championship, within a facility that can showcase the game as a great spectacle but for our players also to showcase their own individual skills in a perfect setting.

From a Stadium perspective, we will be working with the other Stadium partners to progress the development of the plans that will bring real benefit to the community across the whole of Cornwall. Roll on August 2017!

Ian Connell, Cornish Pirates’ Chairman

Posted in Bill's Blog

Bill Beaumont Cup fixtures 2016

Cornwall will begin the defence of the Bill Beaumont Cup at home against Gloucestershire on Saturday 7th May.

They will then travel to face Hertfordshire on the 14th May, before rounding off the group stage at home against Surrey on 21st May.

Venues and kick-off times to be confirmed.


Sat May 7th Cornwall v Gloucestershire

Sat 14th May Hertfordshire v Cornwall

Sat 21st May Cornwall v Surrey

The final is pencilled in for Sunday 29th May.

Posted in Bill's Blog

Matavesi XV Fundraising Day for Marie Therese House, Hayle

Photo – Sam Matavesi, Richie Kevern & Joel Matavesi sporting the shirts for match


Sereli Matavesi suffered a life changing event in 2014; an operation to save his life caused him to be paralysed. He received treatment in Salisbury before moving to Marie Therese House in Hayle where he has undergone intense physiotherapy to aid his recovery.

He wanted to raise some funds for Marie Therese House and some other causes close to his heart.

Sereli said: “When I first talked about it with the boys we thought perhaps a bit of a kick about in the park and a collection with a bucket. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would grow into the size it has.”

He also went on to say: “A big heartfelt thanks to all the sponsors who have contributed to the event and Camborne RFC for hosting it. So many people have helped me with this journey and I am so grateful to them all.”

The fundraising day is Saturday 13 June at Camborne RFC, with a number of events will taking place. There are three rugby matches: Marie Therese House Staff v. Bawden’s select team; a Fijian Barbarians team v. Camborne Vets; and culminating in the Matavesi Select XV v. a Camborne Select XV, kicking off just after 3 pm.

The Matavesi Select XV will not only star the three sons, but ex-internationals and professional rugby players from around the world. Some of the stars scheduled to play include former England scrum-half Shaun Perry, former Redruth & Cornwall star Mark Bright, Sireli Naqelevuki, Pale Nonu, Tongan hooker Alex Lukui, Cornwall’s Ben Hilton, Jon Griffiths, Semesi Taulava who is currently playing in France, Josh Drauniniu, Heath Stevens and Dan Scarborough.

Photo – Joel & Sam Matavesi

There will be food (with former Cornish Pirate Vili Ma’asi doing the hog roast), drink available at the club including real ales, and the Boscastle Singers in attendance

Josh Matavesi, a Fijian international and current Ospreys player said: “The family really want to thank everyone involved with the treatment that dad has received and especially the staff at Marie Therese House, an awesome facility right here in our County.” He also paid gratitude to all the players who have agreed to turn up out of season to support the day.

1030 – 1200 Mini Rugby Learning ZonesWith the players non-contact Camborne School
1200 – 1400 Players talking with sponsors etc Camborne RFC Lounge Bar
1300 – 1400 Camborne Vets v Fijian Barbarians Camborne RFC Crane Park pitch
Half-time Tag rugby, Marie Therese House staff v Bawden’s select Camborne RFC Crane Park pitch
1530 Matavesi Select XV v Camborne Select XV Camborne RFC main pitch
1830 Fundraising Auction Camborne RFC Main Bar

Following the games, a fundraising auction will take place in the Camborne RFC clubhouse, where rugby memorabilia including signed international, premiership, RaboDirect, French Top 14, local club shirts and many other items will be auctioned off. Special commemorative shirts have been designed for the main match and a signed shirt will also be auctioned on the night.

Sam Matavesi also a Fijian international who last season played for Plymouth Albion in the Greene King Championship said: “The generosity of people astounds me: donating signed international, premiership shirts and even in Cornwall the Cornish Pirates and Redruth have donated items for the auction.”

Photo – Richie Kevern with the special Camborne shirt for the game

So far over 1,000 tickets have been sold but there are still some 1,300 tickets available. Those wishing to attend are asked to purchase their tickets beforehand if possible, so that the organisers can judge the likely attendance.

The capacity has been limited to 2500 supporters and entry will be by ticket only which cost £5. Tickets are available via PayPal matavesixv@hotmail.co.uk and any remaining will be sold on the gate.

Monies raised will go mainly to Marie Therese House and other causes close to the family’s heart.

Sereli was a rugby player being a Fijian Barbarian and his 3 sons Josh, Sam and Joel have followed in his footsteps. Josh is a Fijian international, plays for the Ospreys in the RaboDirect Pro 12 League, Sam is also a Fijian international and plays for Plymouth Albion in the RFU Championship, whilst Joel the youngest brother also plays for Ospreys. The other connection that they all have is they have represented Cornwall but also their beloved Camborne RFC.

The youngest son Joel said: “I would ask as many people as possible to come along on the day and support my dad. There is something going on for everyone, food, rugby and good company so bring your wallet and enjoy the day and let’s make it a huge success.”

Anybody requiring any further information or wishes to support the day can do so by contacting Colin Hatch hatch0348@btinternet.com

Photos – Simon Bryant Iktis photo

Posted in Bill's Blog

Player & coach reactions from the Players’ Tunnel at Twickenham

By Bill Hooper TASC Press Officer, photos by Simon Bryant Iktis photo

There are two pleasures at being in the player’s tunnel after the game: first of all to get their reaction, and secondly to get up close to the charming and beautiful singer Laura Wright.

However, back to the coaches and players. First up Ian Morgan and I asked him if he was a happy chap after that win: “Yeah you bet, it’s been a long journey but it has all paid off. The boys were fantastic today every single one of them.

Photo – Inspirational backs coach Ian Morgan

“The boys are battered and bruised out there. They left nothing out there. I don’t think Lancashire were any weaker than last year, we stepped it up this year. We were fitter, stronger and more organised and the boys just died for the shirt out there today.

“We knew they would come at us in the second half with a bench that could turn a game, but we knew we had to just stick at it and try to counteract their changes at the same time as ours. I think this year we might be told that we got the changes right!”

Morgan feels that they may have found a new flanker in Nielson Webber when he slotted into the back row whilst Ben Hilton was in the sin-bin.  Laughing he said: “I think he’s found his natural position. He’s too big for a centre. He did really well coming into that position when we needed to balance the scrum.”

Morgan was full of praise for fly-half Matt Shepherd who scored both Cornwall’s tries: “He has had an outstanding campaign for us and I wish him all the best for the England Counties tour to Romania. Just hope nobody snaps him up as we shall want him for next season, especially not higher than National League 1!”

Morgan felt that a great weight of expectation had been lifted from their shoulders: “It’s a tremendous feeling to have finally won again the expectation has been massive and none more so after falling at the final hurdle the previous two years. This will be a huge boost to Cornish rugby.”

Morgan was full of praise for the youngsters who he said had shown no nerves performing out there: “These youngsters have been here and done it, Billy Searle, Robin Wedlake, Jon Dawe, Tommy Phillips, they are unfazed. Tremendous maturity from Billy to step up and take that penalty that put us 18-6 up. They are all great kids and it’s great for the future of Cornish rugby.”

I also got a few words from a very excited Robin Wedlake who was finding it hard to take it all in: “What can you say, it’s almost unreal. It’s been an amazing experience getting into the squad and then nailing down a place after the Tamar Cup. To run out here at Twickenham with all the noise and seeing family and friends in the stand was tremendous.

Photo – Robin Wedlake with Tony Whittle proudly shows off the Bill Beaumont Cup

“You try to shut it out and focus on the game but it’s difficult with all that’s going on all around.”

For Wedlake the win at Twickenham was culmination of a great season: “It’s been a real dream of a season having first broken into the team at Redruth, a side that I have watched as youngster and progressed through the junior ranks and then getting called into the side and then the County side. Having done it once we want to repeat it again next year.

“The preparation with Dawsey and Morgs has been first rate they are always there to help and guide you. We have our own programs to work to and that all helps put our game structures and plans together. It will be nice to get back to Redruth with all the experience I’ve learned and bring that to the club, it’s really boosted my confidence going forward.”

I managed to get a few words from Cornwall’s skipper Kyle Marriott: “I am really proud of the boys today and real performance for 80 minutes. We got on the front foot early on with Sheppy’s try and I think we showed real control during the game, and then to keep Lancashire out in the final five minutes having conceded that try showed our resolve. The strength of our campaign has been our defence and that was the difference today.

Photo – Proud captain Kyle Marriott brandishes the Cup

There was praise from the skipper for his scrum half Matt Shepherd: “Matt’s tries were crucial. The forwards worked hard to put us in the right positions on the field and Matt has been on song all campaign and he took his opportunities well.”

I asked Kyle what it was like to lift the Cup in front of the Cornish fans: “The noise was tremendous. Those Cornwall fans are really special. The boys felt it was their time today and we had confidence in our abilities. My job was try and keep a lid on things and be that calming influence.”

Ben Hilton had the biggest smile on his face as I asked him how it felt to have finally won the County Championship: “It’s been a long time coming. It feels good. I am still trying to take it all in. It’s a wonderful feeling for the players, crowd and all the supporters back home. It’s great for that core of players who have been involved for the last five years or so.”

Photo – Off to Romania, Cornwall’s three England Counties players Craig Williams, Ben Hilton and Matt Shepherd

Asked about his yellow card: “I thought I was legal, but we were on a team warning. Would they have scored a try? The jury’s out. It broke their rhythm and we held them out and they kicked the penalty.

“Their changes in the second half made a big impact but we coped well in that third quarter. Then we did well when they put the pressure on though it was disappointing to concede that try but we rode out their final storm.

“It was great to be congratulated by Bill Beaumont when we went up for the cup and to get respect from the Lancashire players who said we deserved it.

“It’s a special moment and will be right up there in my rugby timeline. I have always made myself available for Cornwall and I am proud to do so.”

On the England Counties tour to Romania: “It will be nice to go on tour with these lads and not be ribbed that we lost the final for once.”

Hilton was also full of praise for Cornwall Team Secretary Ewart White who is stepping down after 20 years in the post: “A great way for Ewart White to bow out today. I have known since I was a kid. He used to joke with me that one day I’d be a Cornwall captain and I thought he was winding me up but he was right. What a legend. This day will live long in his memory.”

Photo – Cornwall Team Sec. Ewart White with the Cup

Finally I caught up with the man of the moment Matt Shepherd. I asked him how it felt to have won at Twickenham. He said: “Well after two years of not playing very much in the squad it’s been a fantastic campaign. The atmosphere in the ground was tremendous as the crowd brought Cornwall to Twickenham.

“It’s always tough with the extra four weeks on the end of a long hard season, but it’s been a real pleasure but the boys and the background staff all came together and we were determined to go that extra mile this year.”

Shepherd then talked about his opening try: “Well I’d just missed with my first kick at goal. I didn’t really know what was happening but I saw this gap and thought I’d better go, but great work by the forwards who created the opportunity. Luckily for me the gap opened and I was able to beat the cover.

Photo- Matt Shepherd moments after scoring his second try

“It was the same with the second try. Great ball by Fucs from the lineout and again the gap was there so I went for it, but again it’s all down to the work of the team that creates the chance.”

A modest Shepherd felt that there was no man-of-the-match today but it had been a complete team performance: “We all did vital work at crucial times and it was a massive team performance and it was a hearts and mind performance. People put their bodies on the line today.

“There is no rest for me as I am packing my bags for Romania with England Counties. I am looking forward to the trip!”

Posted in Bill's Blog

Winner’s medal completes Cook family haul

Photo – Damien Cook celebrates the final whistle

By Bill Hooper TASC Press Officer, photos Simon Bryant Iktis photo

Cornwall’s win on Sunday in the Bill Beaumont Cup Final against Lancashire 18-13 will have been greeted in every household in Cornwall, but maybe none so much as the Cooks’.

Lock Damien Cook finally got a winner’s medal at Twickenham to go alongside the runners-up medals he already has for the defeated finals in 2013 and 2014, plus the Under 20 final defeat in 2002 to Hampshire 27-14.

When you add to the equation father Tony’s three County Championship final runners-up medals from 1989, 1992 and 1998, sadly Cornwall’s record cap holder with 102 caps didn’t feature in the winning 1991 side, then the family’s luck at Twickenham had to change surely?

Prior to the game I had a chat with Tony Cook near the players’ entrance and he told me that this year he had made a change of habit. Previously he had worn his 1989 shirt to all the finals and this year he had decided to leave it at home.

Photo – Cornwall’s Damien Cook bloodied but unbowed powers on through Lancs skipper Evan Stewart with Chris Fuca and Paul Arnold in close attendance

I caught up with a blooded but none-the-less happy Damien Cook as he came out from the changing rooms after the game. He said: “It’s been a long time coming, my first losing experience here was back in 2002 with the under 20s when we lost the final and then the previous two finals to Lancashire, so it was a big relief, thrill and pleasure to be able to put the record straight today against a fine Lancashire side.”

He laughed at his Dad’s remark about his ’89 shirt and went on to say: “Maybe it did. We have got a real good group of players with a good blend of youth and experience and I think today that experience got us through, the previous two years we thought the job was done just getting here, but as you know the job is done winning it.

Photo – Cook looking for contact as Lancs Chris Johnson watches on

“We dug deep today especially towards the end there and the experience of the last couple of seasons came through. I think Fucs (Chris Fuca) said that this has been building since February and is not something thrown together in the last four weeks. The patterns and procedures in play have painstakingly been put in place. Our preparation has been the key, although the championship has taken a bit of a backstage in recent seasons, and you haven’t got the time to prepare yourself following the league season. I would love to see the leagues re-structured and go back to the old format with the county championship during the season proper. I think that will give it more credibility and hopefully get a few more counties to take it seriously again.”

Cooky was also delighted with the support of the Cornish fans who had made the long trip to Twickenham: “It was like playing at home looking up at the stands and seeing the black and gold you have to say that this Championship would be pretty poor without Cornwall in the final.”

Photo – Powering on Cooky with skipper Kyle Marriott

Cooky also confirmed that he had no plans to retire yet: “Having got a winner’s medal, I’d like to have a go at another next year. You are a long time retired and I’ve no plans to do that yet. It’s a big commitment but one I am happy to take on.”

Posted in Bill's Blog

Cornwall at last overcome Lancashire to regain County Crown

Cornwall 2015 full
Photo – Cornwall team photo at Twickenham

Report by Bill Hooper at Twickenham Stadium, photos Simon Bryant Iktis photo

Cornwall were crowned County Champions for only the fourth time following a nail-biting finale that had Trelwany’s Army on the edge of their seats, nervously watching the clock.

For Cornwall it was their first win against Lancashire in a county final at the fifth attempt following their defeats in 1969,1992, 2013 and 2014.

When play was stopped with just 4 seconds to play and Lancashire having to play from their own half it began to dawn that the long wait might just be over.

Credit to the boys of the red rose who gave their all but when the ball was lost forward that signalled the scenes of wild joy both on and off the pitch as Cornwall celebrated a famous win.

Tears rolled down the cheeks of grown men, notably retiring Cornwall Team Secretary Ewart White who ended his tenure in his role with the win, his hard work over 20 years richly deserved.

A moment of satisfaction too for Cornwall’s head coach Graham Dawe, having won with Cornwall as a player in 1991, he was now steering the side to success in 2015.

True he had done the same with Devon, but this was the sweeter by far.

Photo – Matt Shepherd darts in for Cornwall’s opening try with Chris Fuca celebrating

Speaking post match in the Twickenham player’s tunnel he said: “It’s been a long time since our last win in 99 but I think today you saw the culmination of what we have been working for. We were under a bit pressure there near the end, we lost Billy (Searle) to a yellow card, it could of cost us, but the boys out there knuckled down and denied Lancashire with some great defence, but the lad again showed great maturity kicking that penalty that put us 18-6 up with about 16 minutes to go.

“I think Tony Whittle’s hit on their receiver from the kick-off really set the tone and then Matt Shepherd’s first try settled the team down. We were in control of the game from then on. I would have preferred if we could have got more than two scores ahead and to be fair we had opportunities, but didn’t take them, which made it tough for us going into the closing stages.”

Cornwall kicked off playing towards the SW corner of the ground and Whittle’s hit on the Lancashire receiver caused confusion that led to an immediate penalty opportunity for Matt Shepherd, but his effort sailed wide of the posts.

However, he was on hand moments later when from a ruck some 30 meters out he spotted a gap and darted towards the line, stepping two players before dotting down under the posts for a great try that got the crowd going and then adding the extras for a 7-0 lead.

Lancashire stormed back getting a penalty when prop Rupert Freestone was pinged for not releasing. Lancashire kicked for the corner and set up a maul. Cornwall were caught off-side in mid-field allowing fly-half Steve Collins a simple kick to reduce the arrears.

Photo – Cornish warriors skipper Kyle Marriott & lock Damien Cook

Nielson Webber put in a storming run taking Cornwall into the Lancashire half and when Searle was high tackled, Shepherd had another opportunity to nudge Cornwall further ahead but, again his kick sailed past the upright.

Craig Williams and Whittle went close before Lancashire got some territory forcing Cornwall to concede a penalty that saw lock Ben Hilton dispatched to the cooler for 10 minutes.

Cornwall brought on Damien Cook to bolster the second row whilst centre Webber packed down in the back row at scrum time.

Chris Johnson, on as a replacement for Collins, kicked the penalty for Lancashire to make it 7-6.

Searle was again the victim of a poor tackle which saw Lancashire’s centre Chris Briers see yellow just before the end of the first half, Shepherd took on the posts and this time his kicked sailed right between the sticks to leave Cornwall 10-6 up at the half-time break.

Both sides stayed out on the pitch during the interval.

Cornwall again started the half with a high tempo, forcing a penalty in the 22. Searle kicked to the corner as Cornwall looked to set up a maul; instead, Fuca flicked the ball to Shepherd who saw another gap and was through on the line to score his and Cornwall’s second try.

The conversion sailed wide again in the swirling wind.

Lancashire, as you would expect, looked for a way back but Cornwall held firm with some great tackling from winger Jon Dawe, centre Jake Murphy and hooker Jamie Salter.

Cornwall got another penalty with just 16 minutes to go to the right of the posts. Searle took charge had knocked the ball clean through the uprights for an 18-6 lead as Trelawny’s Army was in full cry!

Photo – Shepherd after scoring his second with BJ Chapman celebrating

Lancashire certainly still poised a big threat, especially though winger Anthony Bingham, whilst veteran lock Paul Arnold was going to enjoy himself in his last game for the red rose.

Oli Brennand, on as a replacement, showed his class as he almost jinked towards the try-line and then Shepherd turned saviour as he cleared up a Lancashire lineout 5 meters out from the Cornwall line.

Searle found himself in the sin bin having kicked the ball away by referee James Sullivan. Lancashire got some good field position and from the pick and go near the Cornish line skipper, Evan Stewart got the try and Johnson the conversion to make the score-line 18-13.

Photo – Graham Dawe, Kyle Marriott & Matt Shepherd with the Bill Beaumont Cup

The red rose launched a huge assault on the Cornwall line but again Shepherd ripped the ball out of a maul to clear the danger.

The final minutes were nerve jangling but as Lancashire knocked on and the clock had gone dead, the Cornish party at Twickenham began in all it’s black and gold splendour.

Cornwall 18 pts

Tries – Shepherd (2), Penalties – Shepherd, Searle, Conversion – Shepherd

Yellow Cards – Hilton (26), Searle (74)

Lancashire 13 pts

Try- Stewart, Penalties – Collins, Johnson, Conversion – Johnson

Yellow Card – Briers (36)

Cornwall: B Searle, J Dawe, J Murphy (all Cornish All Blacks), N Webber, R Wedlake (both Redruth), L Webb (Taunton), M Shepherd (Cornish All Blacks); R Freestone (Clifton), J Salter (Cornish All Blacks), C Williams (Redruth), T Whittle (Camborne), B Hilton (Cornish All Blacks), C Fuca (Redruth), G Jones (Penryn), K Marriott (Redruth, capt)

Replacements (used): C Judge (Cornish All Blacks), D Cook (Redruth), J Goldsworthy, D Mankee (both Camborne), S Parsons (Redruth), BJ Chapman (Cornish All Blacks)

Replacement (not used): T Phillips (Redruth)

Lancashire: W Spragg, J Dorrington, C Briers, S Rawlings (all Fylde), A Bingham (Rossendale), S Collins (Sedgley Park), R De La Harpe (Fylde); B Black (Sedgley Park), A Loney, A Lewis (both Fylde), J Nugent (Bergerac), G Rawlings, E Stewart (both Fylde, capt), S McGinnis (Loughborough Students), M Lamprey (Sedgley Park)

Replacements (all used): L McGowan (Caldy), P Altham (Preston Grasshoppers), P Mills (Preston Grasshoppers), P Arnold, C Johnson, O Brennand (all Fylde), N Crosley (Hartpury Coll)

Referee: James Sullivan (RFU)

Crowd 3,500

Men-of-the-match 22 black and gold heroes who played their hearts out for Cornwall each and everyone one of them merited the award.

Posted in Bill's Blog

Final Cornish thoughts before Twickenham

Photo – Graham Dawe makes a point in training

By Bill Hooper at the Recreation Ground, REDRUTH

Photos Simon Bryant Iktis photo

Cornwall held their final training session at Redruth on Thursday evening with the side being put through their paces by the coaches and trainers.

I caught up with some of the players prior to the session starting and first spoke to centre Nielson Webber who will be playing in his third final for Cornwall.

Photo – Nielson Webber chats to the local press

Photo – Nielson Webber watches on as Chris Fuca looks to tackle Taron Peacock

Webber confirmed that he couldn’t wait for Sunday mid-day: “I can’t wait, it’s been a long week just waiting for Sunday, the Hertfordshire game which really felt like a semi-final was incredible, the work ethic from the boys was tremendous and that was from the old heads and the young guns. The second half performance we put in was one of the best I’ve played in, we knew playing down the slope would favour us second half.

“At half-time in the changing room no one was panicking, Ian Morgan just laid out what we needed to do and everyone was confident that we could turn it round, there was just a determination that we were not going to be beaten.

“Bringing on Cooky and BJ (Chapman) in the second row gave the pack a lot more beef, Damien (Cook) is a well proven performer who has had another outstanding season, and it must be disheartening for the opposition to see him coming on because of what he can offer.”

Nelly also had no doubts that the familiarity of the half-backs and centres has been a big plus for the team: “At some-time or other we have all played together in a side and our understanding has helped especially with our defensive patterns, we are all committed to working for each other and that has really shown in our performances to date.”

There are no illusions that Sunday’s game will be another big step up: “It will be a big step up but I can’t wait to get stuck in to them, I really feel that this squad can more than match them in all departments.

“It’s got to be our time now.”

I also spoke the Penryn’s skipper George Jones, the latest player from the Borough to feature in a county final following in the footsteps of players like Gordon Jago, Roger Hosen, Vic Roberts, Ken Plummer, Roger Harris, Graham Bate and Martyn Addinall to name but a few.

Photo – George Jones (with ball) at county training last evening

It will be the Borough’s skipper first game at rugby HQ.

“I am really looking forward to the final. I think everyone is really.

“I have had lots of good luck messages from people at Penryn it’s been overwhelming really the number of texts etc. I have had, it’s a real honour to play for both Penryn and Cornwall and to play for both this season is a dream come true.

“I came into the squad to see just how far I could go with no great illusions but as the weeks went by in training up in St. Austell on those cold Monday nights  I really felt I had a good chance and when I got the nod for the Tamar Cup I was over the moon.

“I have loved the whole county experience this season and I think the way we have been training and going about our game I feel we have a good chance against Lancashire, you can’t fault the commitment from everyone in the squad and involved with the squad.

“I am sure we are going to get some great backing on Sunday the crowds have been brilliant in all our previous games, the game at Redruth against Herts was pretty special and if we can re-create that atmosphere at Twickenham then it will be a game changer for sure, we don’t always get a big crowd at Penryn so to experience that kind of a crowd was a big lift.”

Finally I caught a few words with skipper Kyle Marriott. He too was impatient for Sunday to arrive: “I am really looking forward to it the build up has been a bit special this week but I think we all want to get this session done and then focus on the final.

Photo – Skipper Kyle Marriott in action against Herts

Although having been there and won it with Devon, Kyle knows that the game on Sunday will be a bit more special: “I think there is a greater passion in Cornwall for this. The build up both on and off the field is unparalleled, the whole of Cornwall, from Pendeen to Torpoint, are buzzing for this and that adds to it and it will be a momentous occasion for myself as captain and the team.

“We will prepare ourselves in the right way and then in the dressing room at Twickenham we will focus ourselves, there will be some motivational speeches, but I think the occasion will be motivation enough and I know when we step off the coach we will receive a fabulous welcome across the concourse to the changing rooms.

“A lot has been written and said about our record against Lancashire but really on the day it’s about the here and now and I think that if we prepare fight and are focused correctly then there is no reason why we cannot win, I am sure Lancashire will be saying the same thing it will all boil down to how you perform on the day itself.

“I am not worried about the kick-off time I have played at Twickenham at 9:30 am so it’s no big deal, in fact in some ways it’s better as you are not fretting away at the hotel before hand, just get out there and play some rugby.”

Posted in Bill's Blog

Lancashire name side to defend Bill Beaumont Cup

Photo – Lancashire side of 2014 at Twickenham

A third consecutive County Championship final against Trelawny’s Army awaits Lancashire at Twickenham on Sunday writes Peter Elliott, Lancashire RFU Press Officer.

Having seen off Yorkshire last weekend with four tries in a 30 minute spell, the defending champions’ team to face Cornwall sees one tactical change from the previous starting line-up.

Influential half-back Steve Collins replaces Chris Johnson at fly-half, while the bench sees the return of Fylde’s Oli Brennand for his first appearance of the campaign.

Head coach Mark Nelson spoke about the campaign ahead of the final: “Getting to the final has been very fraught, as it’s essentially knockout rugby in many ways,” he said. “Sunday is a great opportunity for our players to play at Twickenham, in what is a world-class stadium. It’s the same opportunity for people to come and support the team. Overall, we want them to enjoy the experience.

“It’s the same opposition third time on the bounce. Cornwall feel far better and stronger, and are confident opponents. But we have got to get everything right.”

Speaking about the missed opportunity to have the game shown to a nationwide audience as was the case last year, Nelson added: “I’m very disappointed with it not being televised, and questions need asked about why!”

Sunday will be the final game in a Lancashire shirt for Paul Arnold, who will make his 36th appearance if he plays. A veteran of the 2003 cup-winning side, the 34-year-old lock said: “With my appointment to be head coach at Fylde and the inevitability of Anno Domini, I think that it’s time to call it a day in terms of playing for the Red Rose County.

“I made my Lancashire debut in 2002 against Kent at the Woodlands alongside Dean Schofield. Sunday’s game will be my 36th county appearance and perhaps my seventh or eighth final. I’ve so many good memories and stories from these 13 years.”

Lancashire’s appearance this Sunday matches Gloucestershire’s post-war record of seven consecutive finals, between 1970 and 1976, while Durham holds the overall record for consecutive appearances, with ten appearances between 1900 and 1910.

The Lancashire team to face Cornwall is –  15 Warren Spragg (Fylde), 14 Jordan Dorrington (Fylde), 13 Chris Briers (Fylde), 12 Scott Rawlings (Fylde), 11 Anthony Bingham (Rossendale), 10 Steve Collins (Sedgley Park), 9 Ryan De La Harpe (Fylde); 1 Ben Black (Sedgley Park), 2 Alex Loney (Fylde), 3 Adam Lewis (Fylde), 4 Jonathan Nugent (Bergerac), 5 Gareth Rawlings (Fylde), 6 Evan Stewart (Fylde) (Captain), 7 Steve McGinnis (Loughborough Students), 8 Matt Lamprey (Sedgley Park)

Replacements – 16 Louis McGowan (Caldy), 17 Pete Altham (Preston Grasshoppers), 18 Phil Mills (Preston Grasshoppers), 19 Paul Arnold (Fylde), 20 Chris Johnson (Fylde), 21 Oli Brennand (Fylde), 22 Niall Crosley

Posted in Bill's Blog

Cornwall name unchanged side to face Lancashire

By Bill Hooper TASC Press Officer

Coaches Graham Dawe and Ian Morgan, along with the county selectors, have named a unchanged side for Sunday’s Bill Beaumont Cup Final against Lancashire at Twickenham.

Cornwall will go into the final as underdogs. Having lost to the same opposition in the last two finals, they will be keen to put a stop to the red roses’ run against the black and golds in county finals, with wins in 1969, 1992, 2013 and 2014.

Cornwall Captain Kyle Marriott said: “We had belief as a squad that we could win this game. Hertfordshire certainly came down to Cornwall wanting to avenge last season’s result and go to Twickenham. The guys stuck to the game plan and it paid off. Our second half performance was awesome, and to score 19 unanswered points was very satisfying. But Cornwall is more than the 22 guys on the field: the support from players who are on the fringe but still turn up and train and run the water, medics, coaching staff, selectors, management are all very supportive and form part of team Cornwall.” He further commented: “What can I say about the support: magnificent as always and thank you everyone who made the effort to attend today’s match. The crowd was around 3000 and I think all of them were wearing or cheering the black and gold! Absolutely awesome! Now we need to get the rallying call going out all across the Duchy for next weekend. All roads lead to Twickenham where we face the team that beat us last year, Lancashire. It would be great if we could see that stadium turn black and gold.”

CRFU Chair Denis Preece said: “It is superb to know that a Cornwall team will be at the home of English rugby again next week to contest the Bill Beaumont Cup.” He went on to say: “This year the boys have worked really hard under the coaching set up of Graham and Ian and we have seen a lot of continuity.

“We must also thank our external support, Trelawny’s Army, all our sponsors including our main sponsor St Austell Brewery under their “Tribute” banner, Kelsall Steele one of our shirt sponsors, along with BLK the kit suppliers and lastly everyone in the media who have provided such excellent coverage prior, during, and post-match, thank you one and all.”

Cornwall coach Graham Dawe said: “This match was always going to be a real battle, in a winner take all match. We made a few mistakes in the first half which allowed them to build a 12 point lead. This team play with belief in themselves and showed the tenacity to play the last 40 minutes under great pressure and expectation from a large crowd.

“It was extremely sapping in the conditions and we need to assess the guys before our final training session on Thursday. Selection of the match day squad was a real headache for us due to the quality and commitment of the squad who have played, and are on the fringes. It is also gratifying to see Ben Hilton, Craig Williams and Matt Shepherd all selected for the England counties tour of Romania following the final on Sunday. This is a reward not only for those individuals but recognises the whole Cornwall set up.”

CORNWALL: Billy SEARLE, Jon DAWE,  Jake MURPHY (all  Cornish All Blacks), Nielson WEBBER, Robin WEDLAKE (both Redruth), Lewis WEBB (Taunton), Matt SHEPHERD (Cornish All Blacks);  Rupert FREESTONE (Clifton), Jamie SALTER (Cornish All Blacks), Craig WILLIAMS (Redruth), Tony WHITTLE (Camborne), Ben HILTON (Cornish All Blacks),  Chris FUCA (Redruth), George JONES (Penryn), Kyle MARRIOTT (Capt.) (Redruth)

Replacements: Christian JUDGE (Cornish All Blacks), Damien COOK (Redruth), Tommy PHILLIPS (Redruth), James GOLDSWORTHY (Camborne), David MANKEE (Camborne), Sam PARSONS (Redruth), Barrie-John CHAPMAN (Cornish All Blacks).

Coaches – Graham Dawe, Ian Morgan

Strength & Conditioning – James Earp

Travelling Reserves:- Steve JOHNS, Richard FRIEND,  Mark GRUBB, Max VENABLES,  Taron PEACOCK,  Richard BROWN, Matt BALLARD

Posted in Bill's Blog

Cornish trio selected for England Counties tour

england counties  
Photo – Ben Hilton has once again been called up by England Counties to tour Romania

Three of Cornwall’s County Championship squad have been selected for England Counties tour to Romania the week after the Bill Beaumont Cup final.

Two of the players are from the Cornish All Blacks.

Lock Ben Hilton who has been a regular in the Counties side for several seasons and who played in the games earlier in the year against Scottish Clubs at Fylde and France Fédérale and Périgueux, both of which were won.

It’s a first call up for scrum-half Matt Shepherd who has had a tremendous campaign in the county colours, a very much deserved recognition.

Photo – scrum-half Matt Shepherd richly deserves his England Counties call up

Prop Craig Williams is the latest Redruth player to earn selection for the Counties side, very fitting recognition for a very fine player.

Photo – prop Craig Williams chats to Jamal Ford-Robinson during last season’s Championship

Counties will play two matches against Romanian Super League side CSM Olimpia Bucharest on June 5th and the Romania U23s on June 9th. Both games will be played in Bucharest.

Posted in Bill's Blog

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