Whether it was still the effects of French hospitality from my lightning trip acoss the channel for the opening game of RWC 2007 on Friday night at the Stade de France or a lack of sleep over the previous 48 hours but at half-time on Sunday there was a sense that this could be the day that the Cornish Pirates turned over one of the big boys on their own turf. with score 19-10 to the Pirates courtesy of four Gareth Steenson penalties and a try scored by hooker Rob Elloway converted by Steenson you could sense that this time they might just pull it off.

Adryan Winnan had another stormer for the home side his vision creating the Pirates opening try when he chipped the ball ahead, Winnan was impeded in his chase by Saints winger Paul Diggin not once, nor twice but three times which should have seen the Saints’ winger spending 10 minutes in the ASK Secruity sin-bin.

The illusion was shattered soon after the start of the second half by Northampton as their fly-half Barry Everitt scored a fine try which he converted to pull his side back to within two points. The game then turned as the Pirates kicked a penalty to the corner and then launched from the lineout a massive assult on the Saints line. The period of pressure and resulting penalties were repulsed by the Saints pack who turned the ball over and set off downfield for Diggin to rub salt into the Pirates wound with a third try, now they trailled 24-19. It must have soul destroying for the home side, the Saints sensing the moment grabbed the try scoring bonus point with a fourth try from Dutchman Tim Visser for a 32-19 lead. James Moore on for Rhodri McAtee scored a second try for the Pirates which Steenson converted to leave the Pirates with a losing bonus point at 32-26, but even that slim reward was snatched away as the Pirates transgressed towards the end for Everitt to kick his third penalty of the game to leave the Saints 35 – 26 winners.

Almost 6,500 saw a great game.

The Cornish All Blacks made the long trip to Doncaster and had to give second best to the Knights 26-8. Matt Jess with a try and Stuart Alred scored the CAB’s points. Next week’s home game against Sedgley Park Tigers is one that the Cornish All Blacks will hope will kick-start their season.

With no games in National League 2 due to England Counties participation in the FIRA-AER Festival in SW France, Mount’s Bay once again stole the limelight with another impressive display in National League 3 South winning 42 – 18 at Bridgwater & Albion. With another five tries scored Bay now top the table with maximum points

News this week that Joff Rowe coach of the County side has stepped down from the position just weeks after having been confirmed in the post for a second season! Interesting to read conflicting reports from both camps as to the reasons why Joff Rowe resigned!!

Apologies for the lack of a review of our SW league clubs on the opening day of their league season, due to trips to the Rugby World Cup, once the tournament is over it will be back to buisness as usual.

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THE CORNISH PIRATES took the honours on the opening day of the National League 1 campaign with a hard fought 26 – 12 at new boys the Cornish All Blacks.

Whilst the Cornish Pirates will be satisfied with the win they will no doubt be less than satisfied with their second half performance which the East Cornwall side shaded by 12-7.

Leading 19-0 at half-time thanks to a try from winger Brian Tuhoy converted by fly-half Gareth Steenson who also kept the scoreboard ticking over with four well struck penalty goals, the travelling Press Gang faithfull would have been contemplating their side finishing the job during the second half and travelling back West with all five points in their booty. The Cornish All Blacks had other ideas. A trademark pushover try was scored by CAB’s No 8 Dave Kimberley to cut the Pirates’ lead to 19-7 with Stuart Alred kicking the conversion. Former Pirate Matt Jess scored a spectacular try on his competative debut for the CAB’s, the flying winger chipped the ball over Pirates’ Nick Buckley and Adryan Winnan to score in the corner, Alred couldn’t add the extras at 19-12 Launceston could sense at least a losing bonus point.

The Pirates made the game safe with their second try scored by skipper Tim Cowley following a break from Iva Motusaga, Steenson’s conversion completed the scoring.

Both sides will take positives from the match, however the Cornish Pirates will have their sternest test of the season already on Sunday when Northampton Saints roll into Camborne.

On Sunday, Redruth got their National League 2 campaign off to a fine start with a 21-14 win away at Nuneaton. This the first of three away matches for the Reds during September before their first home match against Blackheath on October 6th!!

Clive Griffiths kicked a couple of penalties to give the Reds a 6-0 lead before Huw Thomas cut the deficit to 6-3, there was no more scores during the first half. Nuns then took the lead with a try scored by flanker Ian Critchley. Redruth proceeded to score three tries in a 15 minute burst, the first from winger Nathan Pedley followed by a brace from fellow winger Lewis Vinnicombe, further penalties from Griffiths completed the Reds tally.

Next weekend the Redruth front row head to SW France for the FIRA-AER International Festival as part of the England Counties squad to play against Russia, Spain and France Amateurs.

And so to perhaps the most emphatic scoreline of the day and one which I couldn’t have forecast MOUNT’S BAY 63 – 10 BARKING.

Bay could not have wished for a more glorious debut as a National League club then this demolishon of a club that last season played in the league above. 35-3 up at half-time, Bay turned the screw mercillously during the second half running in a total of NINE tries ALL converted by fly-half Lee Jarvis. Australian Tim Mosey lead the way with a hat-trick of tries with the other tries coming from Jarvis, Nick Burnett, former Barking skipper Jon Marlin, Andrew Cheung-Fook, John Griffiths and Ben Hilton, Barking’s full-back Harry Bryan scored all their points with a try, conversion and a penalty.

This scoreline will have sent shockwaves throughout the whole division, with Bridgwater next up to tackle Bay on Saturday.

In the two EDF-Energy Senior Vase 1st Round ties involving Cornish clubs on Saturday there were mixed results. Falmouth progressed defeating Bideford 30 – 20 at the Recreation Ground, whilst Newquay Hornets bowed out 31-10 at Okehampton.

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There really couldn’t be a bigger game to start the National League campaign than the National League 1 derby between the Cornish All Blacks and the Cornish Pirates, or for the purists Launceston v Penzance & Newlyn. East versus West with all roads leading to Polson on Saturday, quite what the exodus of holiday makers heading back to England will make of the mass hords of the Pirates’ Press Gang heading up the A.30 is anyone’s guess. I hope that the expedition to the “borders” is plain sailing as far as the traffic goes.

The Cornish All Blacks deserve tremendous credit in getting to National League 1, Saturday will be their first major test not only on the pitch but off it as well as the demands in this league are far higher than anything they will have experienced before. I am sure that the pressure has already been felt with the pre-match ticket sales for this match and the rush to install the tiered terracing opposite the clubhouse and grandstand side of the pitch.

So what of the game, well I am sure that we are going to witness a tremendous tussle between the two sides and I am sure that former Pirates’ players such as Matt Jess and Owen Hambly will be keen to impress against their former club. I would expect the game to be close for 60 minutes before the Cornish Pirates’ pull away during the final quarter to seal all five league points on offer.

There have been some silly remarks this week about the lack of locals in the Cornish Pirates’ side. I have no truck with these ridiclous comments, the Pirates are a professional outfit who are duty bound to find the best players they can on their budget from wherever. They can come from Timbuktu for all I care as long as they do the buisness for the club! That is the reality of professional rugby and aiming for the Guiness Premiership.

In National League 2, Redruth kick-off their season at Nuneaton on Sunday afternoon. The Reds will be looking to get their league season off to a flying start. There is a great deal of optimisim in the Reds’ camp this season having gone close to promotion last time around. With the likes of Rob Thirlby and Lewis Vinnicombe out wide Redruth have a potent attacking option. A minor set back for the Reds this week is the absence of their new Samoan No 8 Faleoni Seve for the trip to Nuneaton. I’ll tip the Reds for a winning start to the new campaign.

Mount’s Bay begin life in National 3 South welcoming Barking to the Mennaye Field on Saturday. It really is a big day for the Bay and a feather in the cap for all concerned with the club to be playing National League rugby in such a short space of time since the formation of the club. Bay have former Barking skipper Jon Marlin playing in the centre one of several new recruits for the new campaign. A win for the Bay but they may not nick the bonus point on offer!

There are a couple of EDF-Energy Senior Vase 1st Round ties featuring Cornish clubs on Saturday, Falmouth entertain Bideford whilst Newquay Hornets travel to Okehampton.

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It certainly was a very busy weekend with all four of the Duchy’s National League sides in action on Saturday.

At Camborne the Cornish Pirates played host to now familiar pre-season adverseries Celtic League side Newport Gwent Dragons. Once again the Welsh regional side ran out winners 21 – 13 in the Pirates final runout before their opening League encounter at Polson Bridge on September 1st.

Centre Paul Devlin scored the Pirates only try which was converted by fly-half Gareth Steenson made the score 14-13 to the Dragons. At that point the home fans hoped the Pirates could pull off an improbable win, it was not to be as the Welshmen scored a third converted try to make the final score 21 – 13. Steenson kicked two penalties for the Pirates’ other points.

Up at Polson Bridge the Cornish All Blacks ran up an impressive 68 points without reply against Welsh Premiership side Pontypool. Launceston ran in a total of nine tries with wingers Matt Jess and Marc Dibble scoring a brace each. Other scores came from lock Bryn Jenkins, centre Steve Perry, replacements Ryan Westren, Barry Chapman and Andy Birkett with referee Mr Parker-Sedgemore giving a penalty try in favour of the Blacks. Conversions were kicked by Jon Fabian, Stuart Alred and Mark Scrivener.

Launceston complete their preperations of their league campaign this Friday evening when they take on former Heineken Cup winners Bath at Polson with a 7-00pm kick-off.

National League 2 Redruth entertained Clifton at the Recreation Ground running out comfortable winners by 38 – 7. Rob Thirlby was once again in try scoring mood with two to add to the three he scored at Exeter the Saturday before. Brother Paul also got on the scoresheet with a try and four conversions. The Reds other tries came from No8 Fale Seve, hooker Glen Cooper and winger Lewis Vinnicombe.

Redruth’s Development XV lost to St. Ives on Sunday 17-15, Simon Peters and Jason Pengilly scored tries for Redruth whilst Josh Stevens and Rob Lowe scored for the Hakes.

In an entertaining game down at the Mennaye Field, Penzance, Mount’s Bay beat another Welsh Premiership side Cardiff 9 – 8 with Lee Jarvis kicking three penalty goals for the National League 3 South side.

France completed a pre Rugby World Cup double over the outgoing World Champions England down in Marseille by 22 – 9. France scored just the one try this week through their Toulouse centre Yannick Jauzion. Of concern to England was the injury sustained to their skipper Phil Vickery. I am sure we all wish Phil well to be fit for England’s opening game against the USA Eagles.

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A report in the link from the Western Morning News on last night’s pre-season friendly at Polson Bridge.

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The build up to the new National League season continued on Saturday with two of our Cornish clubs in action across the border in Devon.

National League 2 side Redruth travelled to Exeter’s Sandy Park to play the Chiefs taking up also a Development XV to face an Exeter United XV. Whilst the Development XV lost by 78 – 5, the Red’s first XV gave the Chiefs a run for their money losing to the National League 1 outfit by 38 – 19. Rob Thirlby scored three tries for the Reds with debutant fly-half Gareth Griffiths kicking a couple of conversions. An encouraging effort by Redruth and one which will please coach Nigel Hambly although he will be the first to admit that there is still much to be done before the opening game at Nuneaton on Sunday 2nd September notably the lineout. Redruth are back in action on Saturday when they entertain Clifton at the Recreation Ground 3pm.

The Cornish All Blacks were at Newton Abbot winning 34 – 25. Jon Fabian (2), Tom Rawlings, Jake Murphy, Tony Roques and Barry Chapman all scored tries for the Cornish All Blacks. A good runout before they step up a gear on Tuesday evening when they entertain Celtic League side the Newport Gwent Dragons at Polson Bridge kick-off at 7pm.

The Dragons will be based at Tremough, Penryn for their Cornish visit and will be conducting training sessions on Penryn’s Memorial Ground this Thursday with the Borough’s youngsters and first team squad. Saturday the Dragons round off their Cornish visit with a game against the Cornish Pirates at Camborne kick-off 5pm. 

Mount’s Bay were due to play neighbours St. Ives however the Hakes were unable to field a front row and the game was called off. Mount’s Bay hope to be in action during the week at Helston on Tuesday evening, before they take on Welsh Premiership side Cardiff at the Mennaye on Saturday afternoon at 3pm.

England played their second warm up match for the Rugby World Cup taking on host nation France at Twickenham. After the euphoria of the big win against Wales the previous weekend England came back to earth losing to France by 21-15, the Frenchmen scored two tries through veteran lock Fabien Pelous who was equalling Philippe Sella’s 111 cap record for France and Sale Sharks talisman forward Sebastien Chabal. The game also saw the re-introduction of fly-half Frederic Michalak after a long injury lay-off during the second half. For England Cornishmen Olly Barkley kicked four penalty goals whilst skipper Phil Vickerey came on during the final quarter. England travel to the Stade Velodrome in Marseille for a rematch this Saturday evening. Both players have made coach Brian Ashton’s final 30 for the Rugby World Cup RFU link

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The waiting is almost over with the first pre-season friendly being played tomorrow afternoon at the Recreation Ground when the Cornish Pirates entertain Leicester with a 4 pm kick-off.

It will be a chance to see at first hand some of Jim McKay’s new recruits for this season’s campaign. Both sides will be hampered with enforced absences with players away preparing for the Rugby World Cup which stars five weeks today.

Squads for tomorrow’s match.

Cornish Pirates: J Beardshaw, S Betty, R Bolt, P Cook, T Cowley, B Cumming, D Dawiduik, P Devlin, R Elloway, E Gesinde, S Heard, S Hobson, R McAtee, J Moore, I Motusaga, S Parsons, A Paver, D Seal, G Steenson, B Tuohy, S Whatling, J Williams, E Williamson, S Winn, A Winnan.

Leicester Tigers (from): L Abraham, R Blaze, P Burke, M Cornwell, J Crane, T Croft, M Davies, B Deacon, L Deacon, A Erinle, O Finegan, A Goode, B Herring, G Hickie, I Humphreys, B Kayser, A Moreno, F Murphy, J Murphy, B Pienaar, M Smith, O Smith, B Stankovich, T Varndell, S Vesty, M Wentzel, J White, D Young, B Youngs, T Youngs. 

The referee is Mr Tony Spreadbury so that in itself will prove to be very entertaining!

Good to see that the RFU have at last published the England Counties squad for the forthcoming FIRA-AER Tournament in SW France, confirming the participation of the Redruth club’s front row of Darren Jacques, Glenn Cooper and Peter Joyce.

There have been some minor changes to the match venues from my previous posting;

The England Counties XV itinerary is:

September 6: England v Russia in Fleurance, Gers (17.00);

September 10: England v Spain in Morlaas, Bearn (17.00);

September 13: England v France Amateurs in Saint-Paul Les Dax, Landes (18.00).


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The days pass by tediously as we all wait for the start of the rugby season. The pre-season friendlies are now just around the corner edging ever closer. The Tri-Nations is over with the All Blacks coming out on top in the championship decider over the Wallabies to retain the Bledisloe Cup and the Tri-Nations trophy, with less than 50 days to go before the start of Rugby World Cup 2007, New Zealand look at this stage the clear favourites to lift the Webb Ellis Cup we shall see if they can live up to their billing.

The cricket, golf and the Tour de France cycle race thankfully fill the gap, the latter being a long time favourite, this year’s race being no exception being one of the most open in many years. With my Breton connections I grew up learning about the exploits of the great Louison Bobet who won the the Tour in 1953, 1954 and 1955, the first rider to win it three times in a row. In the the late 1970’s and early 1980’s their were the exploits of Bernard Hinault to keep the Breton flag flying high with his wins in 1978/9, 1981/2 and 1985, he finished runner up to Laurent Fignon in 1984 and Greg Lemond in 1986. Le blaireau (badger) was a no nonsense straight talking breton who commanded the peleton with an iron grip. I saw him in action on a few occassions most notably during the Tour of 1982 on the Col du Joux Plane in the Alps and in criterium races in Brittany at Chateaulin in the Circuit de l’Aulne and at Concarneau. The Bretons adored him and flocked in their masses to see him race, a great champion.

I digress though. The Cornish All Blacks look to be asembling a mighty squad for their inaugural season in National League 1 signing up plenty of local talent with Tom Rawlings being their latest recruit. Their opening league encounter at Polson Bridge against the Cornish Pirates is sure to be a sell-out. If they manage to survive their first season at this level then that will be a fantastic achievement for the club and give them something to build on. 

The Cornish Pirates have been quietly preparing for the new season, though it is difficult to imagine how at this stage they can top last season given their ground limitations. If they can be seen to be competitive against Northampton Saints and once more against the two Devon sides Exeter Chiefs and Plymouth Albion then maybe a top three position will be within their grasp. It’s two years since the move away from the Mennaye yet the prospects of the new ground which is a clear requirement to advance further do not appear any clearer at this point.

Redruth in National League 2 have also been busy during the summer and are looking to improve on last season’s fourth place finish a push for promotion must be a clear goal this season. The club have been boosted by the news that three of their players have been selected for the England Counties squad that will be playing in a tournament in SW France this September. Darren Jacques, Glenn Cooper and Peter Joyce the club’s front row will be tackling Russia, Spain and France Amateurs. Matches at Lourdes, Fleurance and Mont-de-Marsan await evoking memories of some of the great French players of the past notably Jean Prat, Michel Crauste, Jean Gachassin and the Boniface brothers Guy and Andre, an area with a rich rugby heritage indeed.

Mount’s Bay newly promoted to the National Leagues have been building up their squad in National League 3 South. They will look to consolidate this season both on and off the field. I am sure that they are going to frighten a few well established League 3 clubs and will finish in the top half of the league. 

I was disappointed with the negative comments from the President of the Cornwall RFU, Mr D. Chatterton as reported in the local press from the CRFU’s AGM. Instead of using the occassion to take the first steps at a reconcilation between the union and clubs he chose to take a swipe at the Redruth and Cornish Pirates. It appears that nothing has been learn’t from the disastrous season the Cornwall team have had which is to say the least troubling for the few remainig loyal supporters the county team has left!!           

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Hard to believe that for some of our clubs pre-season training is almost upon them. Jim McKay welcomes his troops back next Monday along with the new recruits as the Cornish Pirates prepare for another campaign in National League 1. Naturally their Rugby World Cup players will be absent as they begin preperations for the jamboree in France in September. Stan McKeen and new signing Ed Fairhurst had a busy time with Canada during the Churchill Cup which saw a couple of games played at Exeter’s Sandy Park. Tomorrow the pair face the mighty All Blacks in Hamilton.

Laterly Heino Senekal has been in Romania with the Namibian squad competing in the IRB Nations Cup, Heino’s team lost their RWC dress rehersal encounter with Georgia 26-18 before losing to Argentina A 47-13. Their final game is tomorrow, Saturday when they take on hosts Romania.

It was good to see former Pirate Will James now of mighty Gloucester picked by Gareth Jenkins in his initial 40 man squad for Wales RWC campaign. Let’s hope Will can make the final 30.

Brian Ashton’s 47 man initial squad for RWC 2007 sees the inclusion of Cornishmen Phil Vickery and Olly Barkley also the presence of former Launceston player Dan Ward-Smith. Once again best wishes to the lads and the hope that they will all make the final 30 man squad.

The aforementioned friendlies kick-off in dramatic style on Saturday 4th August at Camborne when the Cornish Pirates entertain the reigning Guinness Premiership Champions Leicester Tigers, kick-off is 5pm.

They may well be shorn of their World Cup players even so their will be plenty of talent and skill on display as the Tigers build for their opening Premiership encounter.

Saturday 11th August sees Redruth travel to Sandy Park to tackle the Exeter Chiefs, in another interesting match.

The Cornish All Blacks are not to be outdone neither as they tackle Celtic League side Gwent Dragons on Tuesday 14th August at Polson, the Welshmen with former Pirate Joe Bearman in their squad will then travel further west to play the Cornish Pirates on Saturday 18th August again at Camborne at 5pm. Down at the Mennaye at 2-30pm on the same day Mount’s Bay will host Welsh Premiership side Cardiff. A veritable feast of rugby in W. Cornwall on that day.

Finally, the Cornish All Blacks have once again attracted former European Champions Bath to travel westwards as they play them on Friday 24th August with a 7-00pm kick-off, in what should be another feast of rugby.

So, all in all August promises to be a very exciting curtain-raiser to the rugby season down in Cornwall.

News of the England Counties tour to Russia, the Counties side won their first match in far off Siberia beating Kransnoyarsk 27-19 in front of a very respectable crowd of 10,000 in the Central Stadium.

The Counties then travelled to Moscow where on Tuesday they played the Russian club champions VVA Podmoskovie at the Monino stadium. The Counties were well beaten on this occassion by 35-15!

Saturday sees England Counties take on the Russian national side, who are themselves faced by a boycott from some of the leading clubs who are not wishing to release their players!!

Many of you will have been surprised that the second weekend in September has been left blank in the National League 2 program. Well the reason is that England Counties will be in France for a week 5th-13th September to play three matches. The “European Festival” will be played in the French rugby heartland of South West France. England Counties who I understand will be based at Anglet in the Basque country between Biarritz and Bayonne, will play against Belguim on September 6th, Spain on September 10th and finally France Amateurs on September 13th. Venues are yet to be finalised although I believe that the match against Spain will be played at Lourdes. 



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