Rugby Lions v Old Northamptonians - Chairman’s Prelude

Good afternoon, and welcome again to this new season at sun-soaked Webb Ellis Road. This being the 6th season since the rebirth of our proud club, and being honest, I’m looking forward to this more than most. The summer has been characterised by some comings and goings. Let’s deal with the latter first, and specifically Alex Tansley. ‘Tanno’ was selected to play in a very successful Leicestershire side last season, which culminated in a fantastic Twickenham finale; which was great for him personally – but also gives our talent the oxygen of publicity, and that often attracts the eye of other clubs; and in this case we lost him to Hinckley who ply their trade at National 2 level. He goes with our best wishes and in return, he continues to hold The Lions in very high regards, and will continue to return to us occasionally as and when he’s not playing. Wit regards inward talent; it became obvious last season that we needed a wider coaching pool to support Aggy. With changes at Newbold – who have done fantastically well in recent seasons – the opportunity arose for us to bring Phil Reed and Matthew Davies back to The Lions; where both enjoyed auspicious playing careers. Accordingly, we shuffled our coaching proposition and moved Aggy to a Director of Rugby role, with Reedo and MD taking specific responsibility for backs and forwards coaching respectively. Certain players form close relationships with their coaches, and Reedo and MD joining The Lions meant that certain players followed, most poignantly Nick Walton and Ben Nuttall returning to Webb Elis Road; and K J Henry and Danny Treharne swelling the ranks. The former is currently recovering from injury and Danny debuted with a fine cameo at OWs last weekend showing glimpses of the tenacity we’ve sometimes missed in recent seasons. Those of you able to travel to Oadby last week will also have seen Tim Murphy have a great game at hooker – having the ex-Warwickshire ‘2’ so sharp was another ‘gap’ we’ve filled compared to recent times. There’s some other new faces I’ll cover in subsequent match notes, but I must have a word with regards Callum Forsyth. Our new scrum half represented Warwickshire last season, and came to many people’s attention scoring a hat-trick of tries on one game. We were immensely pleased to attract him to sport the Lions shirt. He’s looked sharp in pre-season, and ran the show against Oadby Wyggestonians – and Harry Ellis last week – scoring two tries in so doing. He’s a constant menace, sharp on the ball, always making breaks and finding gaps and was well-worth his two tries. He will be pivotal, this season, in taking what we hope will be a strong pack’s stable possession, and turning it into attacking intent. Which takes me onto last week’s first game. Oadby Wyggestonians are a very well run rugby club, finishing third in last seasons Midlands 1 East table, and have strengthened well over the summer. Last week, they were big in the pack with attacking intent across the field, and punished clearance kicks with ex-Coventry player Jon Lowden returning the ball with interest. For The Lions to head there and take a 5-point haul home was wonderful to see. Moreover, the way we played – as a unit still ‘coming together’ – was very encouraging to see. The Webb Ellis Road faithful want to see a pack that dominates the game, and a set of backs that play off this foundation, and run with flare, grit and confidence. Last week was the fist glimpse of that Lions DNA returning, and that’s very exciting. There are some great teams in this league, and some interesting scorelines from Week 1, and today’s auspicious visitors, Old Northamptonians, started well last week with a very narrow 31-30 win against Peterborough; which finished last season 4th-placed in the table; so will doubtless will provide a further stern test of our credentials. Fingers crossed for a great game, and an exciting season ahead. Finally, we wish all the other clubs in our great town all the best for their seasons ahead in their respective leagues; and specifically today, good luck and safe passage to players from both teams, and as ever, thanks and best wishes to today’s match officials.

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