Summer, what a time. Long evenings in the garden, barbecues, eating outside, early morning walks as the sun appears, garden springing to life, waking up to the many birds singing, feel good factors all round and there's not yet even been a mention of the summer events that take place. I guess for some it starts with the Masters golf at Augusta and appears to move seamlessly towards the final weekend in June when Glastonbury again comes around. It was good this year, not great (The Cure are past it) and here's to next year when at last Fleetwood Mac arrives for their debut appearance at this extraordinary festival of contemporary performing arts. Could be worth a punt on some tickets for this alone. And what about UK summer sporting events, Wimbledon certainly didn't disappoint this year, Silverstone, the British Open and to cap it all England winning the cricket world cup (should it have been 5 or 6 runs?). And then an Ashes test series to look forward to. Unfortunately summers end. The Swedish sisters who are the singing duo First Aid Kit sang about nothing staying gold for ever, nothing is permanent, that fantastic sunset soon disappears, those long evenings spent in the garden are fleeting, summers are temporary and then September, shorter days, less sunlight, the prospect of rain, hail, cold, snow. In paraphrasing an eminent sports journalist September and in particular the end of the cricket season, he said, is a sad time because it means we are one summer further away from our youth. Great.........
But what of pre season. Its been going for a few weeks now and first some introductions as we have a new head coach for the senior women, a new coach for the men who joins Arch and Ross and new Sports Therapists to assist with looking after the players' injuries.
Darran Brown becomes the new coach of the Señior Ladies. Darren is a Berkshire lad and has returned to the area after spending a few years coaching elsewhere. He is looking to build on last season and take the squad to the next level making rugby fun and enjoyable both on and off the pitch. Welcome Darran.
Sam Henwick joins a strong men's coaching set up and will work alongside Paul Archer and Ross Newton. Sam is currently Head of Rugby and PE at Pangbourne College. He played nine seasons for Worthing Raiders, one season for Old Redcliffians in Bristol and a season for Newbury Colts back in 2007/08. Along with Ross, Sam will provide constructive challenge to Arch, a feature of a strong and effective coaching team. Welcome Sam.
Jazz Latter joins the medical team and will work primarily with the Stags. Jazz graduated from Gloucester University with a degree in Sports Therapy and last season worked with Gloucester RFC. She has played county level football and rugby. Welcome Jazz.
One of the most challenging aspects for a rugby club is managing player welfare and ensuring individuals return to play only when they are fully fit. Martin Paice and Dan Eisigood will again provide medical cover for the Blues. Martin says, " We've used pre season prehabilitation sessions with both the male and female sides to prepare the players and prevent against some of the injuries sustained in the previous season - focusing on single limb control and rugby specific strength and conditioning. Our longer term injuries are making great progress. Aaron Johnston after rupturing his Achilles tendon in training in February has been smashing his rehabilitation and is looking to be back playing around November. Alex Yates joined us at the start of last season, having sustained a knee injury playing 7's. He has since had an ACL reconstruction and is looking to be playing mid November. Tom Fieldsend who has joined us from Royal Wootton Bassett fractured his collar bone playing 7's but is making great progress and will be looking to play by October. Kris Ford sadly ruptured his ACL against Marlborough and is awaiting surgery, missing this season." We look forward to seeing Kris back in action in 2020/2021. It's not been only the players who have had recent surgery. A few weeks ago Ross Newton had shoulder surgery and is slowly getting back into coaching action. All the best to all those who are recovering from injuries and it shows the importance of having first class medical intervention both on and of the field.
As Arch and his team prepare for the season, he says it is good to welcome new faces to the club as well as welcoming back old faces and also to welcome last year's colts who are stepping up into senior rugby. A number played for the Stags and A's last season and seeing their development is one of the most exciting aspects for the club. "The application of the players has been excellent, with skill levels improving every week. The buzz around training has made it a really enjoyable place be......I am excited about seeing what this group of players can do on the pitch."
For anyone who has watched any of the pre season training it is clear the players have high level skills and determination. The footwork, the thought process, when to pass long, when to go short, when to compete in rucks, when to pass and when to hold on to the ball, spotting space, whether to offload in the tackle, tackling someone and immediately getting back involved in the play, talking to each other, encouraging each other. It would be invidious to single out any individual player but I will single out an incident which sums up the skill levels amongst this group of players. Backs moving at full speed, pass from inside centre a little short, ball falling away from the outside player, who without breaking stride picks it up almost effortlesly from his ankles and in one movement makes a scoring pass for his outside player. All this against a full opposition back line with limited space in which to work. It was one of those wow moments in training and I would encourage as many supporters as possible to come along on Tuesday or Thursday evening to witness the level of skill the players have and to whet the appetite for the forthcoming season. The tone for the attitude of the players was set at the first players' meeting when captain Dan Thorne spoke about not going into this season with the mentality of finishing third from bottom of this league but with the attitude that all games are winnable. This has certainly been reflected on the training field.
In terms of recruitment, the club welcomes eight new players and four players who played Colts rugby last year. The turnout at training has been impressive, with over seventy players attending in total. Mick Futcher's impeccable record keeping shows that Tom Erskine, Harry Etheridge, Toby Holland, James Macaulay, Adam Neal, Joe Salazar and Dan Thorne have100% training attendance. Well done to them.
The end of the cricket season, the end of summer then, shorter days, colder weather, more darkness, rain, hail, snow. Bring it on. There is much to look forward to during the next few months, meeting up with friends regularly watching matches, away trips to grounds where there has to be a weekend break involved, local derbies, pre game lunches, rugby social events, minis and juniors dong their stuff at half time, welcoming away supporters with the warmth that all rugby clubs are known for and once again continuing to being part of a rugby experience, simply being involved in this great game of ours with its friendship and camaraderie that is unsurpassed in any other sport.
Summer, what's all the fuss about anyway. See you at Camborne in the rain..........