Well, here we go again! Once the title celebrations and hangovers subsided, it was very much straight back to business at Braywick- planning for Nat 3 (now named SW Premier), recruitment, extra fitness and a little time for socials, before hitting preseason with a bang. We have welcomed many new players to the club, and sadly said goodbye to some, for varying reasons.
Aside from the obvious increase in challenge, intensity and physicality, from moving up a league, perhaps the most prevalent change, is the extra mileage the players will incur. Fixtures in Brixham, Ivybridge, Newton Abbott and Exmouth are all potential overnighters, with the longest trip of all, away to Camborne first up. Camborne enjoyed a highly successful first season back at level 5 last year, following promotion the previous season, finishing up an impressive 3rd place. It could have been even better for the Cherry and Whites, had they maintained their early season form, which saw them romp to the top of the table after 11 straight victories.
Camborne have enjoyed a successful preseason campaign, comfortably dispatching Camberley 73-12, and then Launceston 33-7. Jake Champion at centre is in rich try-scoring form, and will be one to watch for the Maids midfield, whilst Dave Mankee is an assured kicker, and will look to control the match from the number 10 position. Cornwall tighthead, Andrius Zacharovas, anchors the scrum, and is a menace in the loose. The Camborne faithful will be disappointed to have lost their talisman, Sam Matavesi, to local rivals Redruth, but there seems plenty to be excited about at the Rec, with a young team, spearheaded by new Head Coach, Rhodri McAtee.
As mentioned, there have been lots of new players welcomed to Braywick over the summer, with a quick rundown below:
*Mark Darlington- hooker, who has joined from Chinnor. Previously with Newcastle Falcons Academy, Fylde, ‘t Gooi, and also a current Dutch International.
*Andy Darlington- tighthead prop, and brother to Mark, also from Chinnor. Previously at Fylde and ‘t Gooi, and currently plays for Holland as well.
*Sam Hallett- second row, who has joined from local rivals Reading Abbey, where he was skipper. An imposing figure, who will add weight to the pack and add a bit of sparkle to the Maidenhead Advertiser with his flowing locks. Also captained Berkshire recently in their 2017 campaign.
*Jon Cranton- back row who has come across from Reading, where he was captain. Due to be sponsored by Allan Greene, number 1 fan of our Berkshire rivals.
*Mark Grimshaw- back row, who has moved to the area, after recently playing for Tonbridge Juddians. An out and out 7 who has really impressed in preseason.
*Dom Bart- back row, and a returning colt, brother of Christoph who says he’s been at uni for 3 years, but may have been in prison. Like his brother, he’s big-hitting and athletic who will add energy and tempo to our game.
*Jon Lavin- back row, and another player we have managed to tempt from Chinnor. Nearly joined us last year, but didn’t due to injury. Part of the successful Oxfordshire side which won the county championship at Twickenham.
*Dave Cole- back row, from Reading Abbey. Dave plays mainly at number 8, and although he has been away for much of preseason, he is due to return to training next week.
*Will Runciman- fly-half, who has recently moved to the area. Will has previously played at Championship and National 1 level for Manchester and Sedgley Park respectively, as well as spending time with Sydney University.
*Sam Angell- centre/fly-half from Chinnor. A big-hitting, big-drinking, big-eating acquisition, who is equally adept at 10 or 12. Loves a sausage roll.
*Max Roddick- full-back/wing. Max is an RGS old boy, and comes back to the area after recently finishing university, where he played for Westcombe Park. A good-looking young lad, who Sam Churchyard looks forward to becoming acquainted with on the bus.
As is tradition with the weekly match previews, we take the opportunity to learn a little more about a certain player, and this week, we spoke with one of the more ‘complex’ characters at Maids, Sam Churchyard, who gave us the following insight:
*Name/nicknames: ‘Churchy’, ‘Puss Puss’, ‘ya big priiiiick’, ‘Greengrass’, ‘Humpty Dumpty’, ‘Fat Greener’.
*Position: Hanging out for a blue ball (and then dropping it).
*Occupation: Full time Bandit
*Which Maids teammate would you least like to be stuck on a desert island with? Savage… Got no chat.
*Which Maids teammate would you want to be stuck on a desert island with? PD (Nic Jones) I’m determined to re-kindle that special relationship we once had.
*What’s your favourite TV Programme? “The secret life of the cat” BBC 2 Horizons.
*What hobbies do you have outside of rugby? Mostly sitting indoors pretending to be an owl or a pussy cat. Sometimes I pretend to chase myself around the house.
*If you could be any animal, what would you be and why? Woodworm, so I could finally see what PD gets up to in his prison shed.
*What do you want to achieve this season, both personally, and as a team? Double promotion!! Definitely top half of table is very achievable we have bags of talent is this year’s squad!! Personally, challenge myself to be better than last year, both with my maths and rugby.
William Cadden returns to the starting line-up, after missing last week’s friendly against Redingensians, sustaining a rib injury after a bad tackle from a psychotic woman in a tent, but on the plus side, he is now fun again, since becoming single. Sammy Angell pulled a hamstring he didn’t know he had, so misses out, but Rorie ‘Cow Head’ Hannigan should have finished grazing by kick off, so starts at 12. Tom Simpson has gone a step further with his cat, and actually married her, but then got caught consummating the marriage, so has been banged up. Luckily, Mike Burnett is back fit and starts on one wing, with young heartthrob, Max Roddick on the other. Forwards coach Mark Bates has a bare-knuckle bout planned with some travellers in Exeter on Friday night, but all being well, should be fit to attend the game. Although advertised as ‘all-you-can-eat’, Myke Parrott and Andy Darlington have been warned that the hotel breakfast ‘is not a competition’, and have been limited to just 2 helpings each.
1. M. Darlington
2. N. Jones
3. A. Darlington
Come on you Maids!