RUGBY: Newbold looking forward to first season of national rugby

Newbold 1st team before their final game last season     PICTURE BY STEVE SMITH
Newbold 1st team before their final game last season PICTURE BY STEVE SMITH

Trip to Longton on Saturday for league opener

Newbold’s promotion last year earned them an invitation to play in a full trial match against Coventry Development at Butts Park Arena, in a forerunner to Coventry first team’s game against Rotherham thereafter.

Coventry Development have been invested in heavily this season and had posted impressive victories against Broadstreet and Nuneaton, and are in fine form.

However, unfancied Newbold gave them an excellent game, and earned the respect of Coventry’s notoriously hard to please supporters, going down 52-38.

Bold’s forwards impressed, particularly KJ Henry who put in a couple of excellent try-saving, corner-flagging tackles of real note, and was simply a menace all afternoon.

The backs did their bit also but were up against sheer pace in Development’s three quarters, who scored most of their tries out wide in the corners.

In brief, Newbold’s scrum and line-out were good, and with the ball in hand Newbold looked well drilled and effective.

In defence, there’s probably some work to do still; just too easy for the opposition backs to score wide out. Ageing limbs against young bucks fighting for a professional rugby career... no match really.

Dan O’Brien chipped and gathered to score the first try. He converted it also along with the other four tries scored by ‘Bold. His penalty gave him 18 points on the day.

Ben Dawes scored a typical Ben Dawes try soon after, reward for an excellent showing all afternoon. Danny Treharne finished off a monster drive from the pack, from 20 metres out.

Stuart Houghton ploughed over after some bludgeoning work from his larger colleagues. Phil Reed scored a good try late on, impressively busting through Coventry Development’s would-be tacklers with ease.

So, Newbold are looking forward to a season in the high echelons of national rugby, in what is now renamed the Midland One Premiership Division. Ethan Wookey has the honour of captaining the side this year.

A smattering of new faces join up with the tried and tested squad that has served the club well in recent seasons.

These include:

Jamie Mapletoft, a former Rugby Lions’ junior, colt and senior player. He joined Kenilworth for a couple of seasons before deciding to join The Bold.

Jamie has represented Warwickshire U20s and played at Twickenham in the Junior Vase final.

Lee Lightowler, who scored a hat-trick in Newbold’s pre-season friendly with Southam, was a product of the Broadstreet mini, juniors and colts. He served ten years in the army, leaving in 2015, during which time he played for a variety of army camps, then for his regiment and then for the army.

He played in America against their Special Forces and Marines and has also played in Australia.

Lee did a tour of Afghanistan, before being posted closer to home in Stafford, where he also started to play for Broadstreet again.

Richard Murray, who joined Sandbach Rugby Club at the age of seven and has stayed with them through most of his career including two promotion-winning seasons and their debut season in National 3 Midlands.

While studying for his PhD in Birmingham he played for Bournville before returning to play for Sandbach last year.

Now living in Rugby he is keen to continue playing at National League level.

Sam Powell, is a versatile player who can play across the back line. He came through the Oadby Wyggs’ youth team before representing the University of Derby first team in his four years there.

After that Sam joined Cosby RFC for a season and a half, and was named player of the season in his first full season.

And Louis Smith, who has joined Newbold from Broadstreet RFC and is looking to progress his career.

The youngsters in the first team squad are a year older, stronger and better, plus, there are a number of ex-colts who are catching the eye in training and are maturing into good prospects.

Matt Davies and Phil Reed have the players playing to a pattern and enjoying their rugby.

The forwards will hold their own, particularly in the set pieces, though fitness will be a challenge against the more professional outfits in the new league.

Back play will be higher quality in the new league, and Newbold’s backs will have to be at their very sharpest – every minute, every match.

Newbold’s second string is playing in a strong league this year and are relishing locking horns with sides like Hinckley and Nuneaton, led from the front by Simon Smith.

The thirds will be looking for more silverware, and the colts – a young side this year – will be looking to gel quickly and increase their squad size for the rigours ahead.

And of course, the club’s supporters are pleased to see the back of the rugby-less summer, and will be in full voice come Saturday afternoon, when Newbold travel to Longton for their first fixture in the highest league they’ve ever played in. Bring it on!

All in all, there’s a buzz at Parkfield Road, as the village side faces its sternest challenge in its 120-year history.