First game two-hour drive away on the Welsh border
Rugby Cricket Club will step into an exciting new arena on Saturday, when they take the field for their first ever Birmingham League match.
After securing promotion on a dramatic final day of the 2017 season, they join one of the ECB’s Premier Leagues for the first time in the club’s history and captain Owen Edwards is understandably excited: “This has been our number one ambition ever since I joined the club six years ago,” he explained.
“The Birmingham League is renowned as one of the best competitions in the country and we’ve felt that a town the size of Rugby should be represented there. Now we’ve earned that chance.”
It will be a notable step up for Rugby, moving into a world full of overseas recruits and semi-professionals, and Edwards knows it will be a new challenge.
“We know that the standard and intensity will be tougher this season, but we are ready for that.
“In the past, we could get away with not being at our best and still winning, but teams will punish is this summer.
“But, having played so many consecutive seasons in the same division, it’s exciting to be leaving our comfort zone and stretching ourselves. I’m sure there will be some tough days ahead, but that is the contest that sportsmen thrive on.”
The Birmingham League covers four counties with Rugby, winners of the Warwickshire league, making the step up alongside fellow champions Redditch (Worcestershire), Pelsall (Staffordshire) and Saturday’s opponents Whitchurch (Shropshire).
“It’s an interesting way to start the season,” added Edwards. “We are playing another promoted side, so we are both in the same boat, although they’ve been up in the Birmingham League in the past, unlike us.”
Whilst the two teams have something in common, their geography is quite different. “It’s a big journey to start the season. We are travelling 88 miles all the way to the Welsh border and it’s nearly a two-hour drive according to Google Maps.”
Rugby will head to Whitchurch with a relatively unchanged side from the one that won the Warwickshire League last year, which was an intentional ploy from the club, “We wanted to reward the guys that got us here. If we went out and recruited hard, then you lose the soul of the team and team spirit was a huge part of our success last summer.”
There are some new faces in the side though, with former player Michael Hughes returning to the team and the club’s one new-signing from Lutterworth, George Terry, likely to open the bowling.
“It’s great having Hughesy back in the team, because he’s an experienced performer and another local lad,” Edwards explained. “George is a great signing too. We’ve played against him in his younger years at Rowlands and he’s developed into a really impressive all-round player now and has fitted in well immediately.”
Rugby’s other sides also start their season on Saturday, with the 2nd XI facing Streetly 2nds in their first match under new captain Hugh Cochrane and the 3rd XI hosting Bedworth 3rds.