Well, here we go again! It seems just yesterday, that we made the long trek down to Brixham, for the final game of the 2018/19 campaign, returning victorious after a fine defensive effort in the last 20 minutes awarded us a brilliant victory at the home of the Fishermen.

Much has changed since that day- new players have arrived, some have moved on, we announced an exciting partnership with Ealing Trailfinders, said goodbye to Russell Bolton, and of course, have welcomed new Head Coach, David Mobbs-Smith.

Preseason, under the watchful eye of new S&C Coach, Murray Barratt has been a long brutal slog, starting in the first week of June, and the new, slimmed-down Maids team is now raring to get going. Sadly, with the demise of Birmingham and Solihull Bees, we play this season with a side short, but on the plus side, it means 2 extra weeks of rest, which I’m sure the squad will be most grateful for.

A big welcome goes to league new boys Launceston and Okehampton, whilst Newbury Blues return to this level after relegation 2 seasons ago, to give an extra Berkshire derby to look ahead to, alongside the Bracknell fixture as well.

So, first up for Mobby’s lads, is a tricky journey up to the Mannings, to face Forest of Dean-based side, Drybrook, who enter their second season at this level, following an extremely impressive debut year, last season. Little news has come out of the opposition this preseason, but we know that impressive young Tighthead from last year, Elliott Beattie has relocated back up North, so he will definitely not be present.

Openside flanker, Kyle Frowen was often a thorn in the side last season, and is an expert operator at the breakdown, so the Maids pack will have to be wary of the canny back row, who wins plenty of penalties for his side. Tim Stevenson, player/coach at 10 has a fearsome boot on him, so discipline will have to be on point, whilst imposing 2nd row, Will Greenway, carries hard from the 2nd row, and will look to give his side plenty of front-foot ball.

For Maids, there are debuts for Dan Hostetler (hooker), Sam Curran (tighthead), Sione Funaki (2nd row), Joe Parkin (scrum half) and Charlie Dearman (centre), whilst we welcome back George Blewitt, Olly Foxley, Sam Hallett and Myke Parrott who all suffered severe injuries last season and missed large chunks of the campaign.

Best of luck to all involved, and if you don’t have any plans, get on down to the Mannings to cheer the boys on. Our young, talented 2nd XV make the short trip to Ealing, so go down and support them, if you can’t make it to Gloucestershire.

Maids team (caps in brackets):

  1. Myke Parrott (c) (199)
  2. Dan Hostetler (debut)
  3. Sam Curran (debut)
  4. Sione Funaki (debut)
  5. Ross Muil (35)
  6. Andy Berry (23)
  7. Will Macaulay (55)
  8. Dave Cole (42)
  9. Joe Parkin (debut)
  10. Will Runciman (40)
  11. Scott Prince (52)
  12. Ed Keohane (115)
  13. Niall Crosley (23)
  14. George Blewitt (18)
  15. Olly Foxley (14)
  16. Sam Rawsthorne (17)
  17. Sam Hallett (28)
  18. Charlie Dearman (debut)

Come on you Maids!