THERE WAS REALLY no need for any black and gold smoke to billow out of the chimney at a chilly Truro College on Monday evening, as largely expected last season’s skipper Ben Hilton (Cornish All Blacks) was confirmed to lead the Duchy’s quest for a fourth county championship title in 2013.
Hilton, though confessed surprise at being re-appointed. He said.”The trend in recent years has been to appoint a fresh captain each season, having said that I am extremely honoured at being re-appointed. There are some excellent players in our squad anyone of which could easily have been appointed, Tom Rawlings (Cornish All Blacks), Chris Fuca and Darren Jacques (both Redruth) could easily have done a very good job. I know I can count on them to help me with the side and that is a big plus”.
“The whole squad really want to reward the loyal Cornish rugby supporters. Let’s give them something to celebrate!!”
Cornwall’s Head Coach Dave “Benji” Thomas was equally satisfied with the appointment. He said. “The 2013 season will be very challenging with away games to Gloucestershire and then Kent before our only home game against Hertfordshire on Saturday 18th May. Choosing the right leader for players from different clubs is important and Ben Hilton certainly meets our needs and can build on his leadership from last season.”
Chair of selectors Terry Carter was also pleased with Hilton’s appointment and by the encouraging turnout of the players on a cold Monday evening at Truro College. “Ben captained the side four or five seasons ago (when Cornwall travelled to Brittany) he then lost the armband but he has stuck with us through thick and thin despite having offers from another county to play for them. Last season he was an inspirational captain for us so I am delighted that he has been given another chance to lead the side, hopefully back to Twickenham!”
Away from County news and a quick review of league and cup matches over the past fortnight.
In the Championship the Cornish Pirates’ got back to winning ways with a hard-fought win over Moseley at the Mennaye 17-14. When it looked like their chances of making the play-offs had as good as evaporated, other club’s frailties have again opened the door and whilst the chink of light is small there is still a glimmer of hope!
Two big pieces of news from the Mennaye is the departure of Rod Coward as CEO, although he remains on the board of Penzance & Newlyn RFC and will continue to represent the club at the RFU.
In Rod’s place as an interim appointment come former England World Cup winner Josh Lewsey, who as many know has a home in St Agnes. As Dicky Evans said in his press release on the Pirates’ website “Why would Josh want to help the Pirates you may ask? His greatest passion is the advocating of Values through Sport to Communities and having a home in St Agnes, caring hugely about the county, is therefore keen to help a club and community for which he has a great affinity with.”
“Josh and I have been in touch for a couple of years on the future of rugby in Cornwall, the Pirates and the stadium and his advice to me behind the scenes has been invaluable.”
In National League 2 South, it looks like Redruth’s promotion hopes have been dealt a fatal blow with consecutive loses at home to Hartpury College and then last week at Canterbury. Whilst all is not lost the chances of promotion have receded and I reckon they will probably finish at best fourth in the league. The probable loss through suspension of scrum-half Greg Goodfellow who was red carded last Saturday will also hinder the Redruth side.
The Cornish All Blacks have also suffered two successive defeats losing on the road at both Lydney and Shelford, though a mid-table finish looks secure.
In Tribute South West 1 West, Camborne having defeated North Petherton two weeks ago look likely to finish runners-up and go into a play-off against Old Centralians from Gloucester who are currently second in South West 1 East.
Camborne qualified for the final of the Tribute Cornwall Cup in an unsatisfactory way as opponents Bude pulled out of their semi-final clash. Camborne have reached the final without playing a game in the competition!
They will play the winners of Wadebridge Camels versus St Ives, which was called off on Saturday due a waterlogged pitch. The game is likely to be played this Sunday.
The Final will be played at Penryn RFC on Easter Saturday with a 5 pm kick-off. The Tribute Cornwall Clubs Cup Final which will precede the main final will be between Tribute Cornwall League 1 Champions Veor and Stithians.
In Tribute Western Counties West, St Austell have now got a seven point lead over second place Bideford with just four games remaining and look like being crowned champions. Saints now know their opponents in National Cup semi-final Brighton Blues which will be played on Easter Saturday at Brighton.
Penryn are certainly finishing the season in fine form and their clash with fourth placed Devonport Services this Saturday will be interesting. They got revenge for their Cup defeat at Bude with a fine win at Bencoolen 39-18.
Truro steadied the ship with a home win over Honiton 16-13 to remain in mid-table.
In Tribute Cornwall & Devon League the top two look settled with both Teignmouth and St Ives going up.
Commiserations to Cornwall U.20’s who bowed out of the U.20 County Championship on Sunday when they lost to Devon 32-24 at Brickfields.
Congratulations to Luke Cowan-Dickee and Jack Nowell who both played for England U.20’s in their win against Wales on Friday which clinched the U.20’s Nations for the Red Rose.
In Santiago de Compostela, Tom Parker who hails from Truro, won an eighth cap for Spain playing in the second row in a 9-9 draw with Portugal.
Finally congratulations to Paul Andrew who has signed next season for Premiership side Worcester Warriors. Good to see one of our former Cornwall U.20 players getting to the Premiership.