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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…that I wrote this week to the papers has certainly caused more than a few ripples in the normally calm waters of the CRFU. It is not easy to make someone stand in front of a mirror and to see themselves as others do. Being under the spotlight is not something that the CRFU are comfortable with,  the ball is very much in their court and we await to see if they are prepared to evolve!

It has certainly engaged a debate amongst the rugby public of Cornwall. The need for greater communication and transparency is urgently required, I very much hope that the CRFU will embrace this and move forward. Will they continue to play their old and well-drilled tight knit game or will they be emboldened to spread play for a faster more expansive style? 

To borrow a saying from this year’s Rugby World Cup hosts;

Messieurs…a vous de tirer en premier!   

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Cornwall out-gun Surrey in a big win at Camborne to ensure their participation in the County Shield again next season.

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