Old Pens hoping to build on tough training regime
8:01am Thursday 5th September 2013 in Sport
THE 2013/14 rugby season is just around the corner and on Saturday, September 7, the 1st and 2nd XVs of Old Penarthians start their respective league programmes.
Under the leadership of newly-elected captain Joel deClaire, the Firsts are home to Rogerstone in a WRU National League Division 5SE fixture that kicks off at 2.30pm, while the Seconds are away to Llandaff North in a CADRU Division 1 fixture. It is hoped that all the players that have featured in the pre-season sessions under the management of club coach Alun Haines will be available for selection and keen to start their seasons with good performances.
The early signs are that the players will be fit enough for the nine-month campaign after undertaking the old fashioned training regimes favoured by the coach that included fartlek interval training as well as long distance sprints and many set play routines with ball in hand.
Many of the faces appearing in club colours will be familiar to the regular band of supporters but it is good to see that Dale Norris has transferred to the club after a season on loan and that he is joined by a couple of recruits from over the bridge. Nick Stringer is a second row formerly with Wetherby RFC and Elliot Clarke is a winger from St Mary’s College.
There are also more local newcomers and they are very welcome as would anyone else in the town or locale who is looking for a competitive and ambitious playing environment but with a strong social side to ensure that rugby can still be enjoyed.
The 1st XV will enter a much-changed division and it is hoped that recent skirmishes at the bottom of the league can be replaced with a winning team that has often under performed on their abilities. The changes see the introduction of teams nearer to Newport than Merthyr and new opponents will include Newport Saracens, New Panteg, Machen, Bettws and Rogerstone as well as Taffs Well, Cardiff Saracens and Sully Sports. Teams who have retained their place in the division are Canton, Caerau Ely and St Albans.
It will be a shame to lose the competition and relationships developed with Deri, Cefn Coed, Blackwood Stars and Abertysswg but not the miles in a coach driven at breakneck speed along valley roads more suited to slower drivers.
The 2nd XV are led for another year by Ian Buckley but he is currently sidelined after snapping his biceps tendon, and his on-field duties will be taken by Steve Thomas for at least the first couple of months of the season.
The Veterans captain for the season is Robert Crimp but, at the time of writing, his opportunities, and those of his team, are going to be limited as fixture secretary Jonathan Vaughan seeks suitable opponents.
Robert will, however, combine these duties with 2nd XV team management, and with Tony Purnell looking after the senior side, the players can be assured that their mobiles will be ringing off the hook to ensure availability for matches and training sessions throughout the season.
As club chairman, Mel Jones again leads the off-field management committee and it is hoped that the team development will be matched by the development of the clubhouse that has recently commenced and is due to continue over the next few months.