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.