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!!