RUGBY LIONS: Coach Walton ready to rebuild

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Lions planning a community club

PICTURE: Lions Coaches (from left) Rob Walton, Ian Renard, sponsor Jeff Nowill of KUKA, Rob Dignum, Steve King.

Rugby Lions’ new coaching team of Rob Walton, Ian Renard and Rob Dignum are going to be working towards re-establishing Rugby as a league club and a central part of the town’s sporting heritage in the minds of the town’s residents, writes ALISTAIR BRUTEN.

When Rugby, Tennessee, USA was to be built in the 19th century, the man given the job of creating this new town from the ground up was called Robert Walton and Lions head coach Rob Walton is also looking to build from solid foundations:

“We will be looking to get Rugby back on the Rugby Union map by emphasising the core values of the game of rugby that will run through the whole club - a multi-team community club with the Minis and Juniors, Colts, Tailenders, Girls, Ladies and Men all feeling part of a united club as they enjoy the rugby and the social sides of this sport.”

RFU Development Officer Ian Renard and Newbold teacher Rob Dignum are clearly also committed to this concept of the future of the Lions as an integrated family club with no factions, a concept which long-standing supporters will surely endorse and which new fans and players will relish.

Player recruitment is well underway although obviously Lions will welcome further new players to enhance the anticipated mix of young, experienced and veteran players. The three coaches will also play.

The 1st XV and the Development team will train together and there will be a real focus on bringing on players to get their chance in the first team.

The training will be lifted by occasional visits from external coaches – England’s Graham Rowntree, for example – as well as specialist conditioning coaches.

Pre-season training is expected to begin on Tuesday 4 July. New players can contact Head of Playing Steve King via the Rugby Lions club website:

The new home playing shirt is the classic white with traditional badge and restrained logos of maker Kukuma and main club sponsor KUKA.

The first league fixture is a very local derby on 14 September at home to Rugby Welsh.

Will Brock, a Rugby Lions star two seasons ago, continues his preview of the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia:

I think the Lions will definitely dominate the set piece after picking a such a big pack but Australia will look to counter that by playing at such a pace “the slabs of meat” (Sydney Morning Herald) will find it hard to keep up. Australian Super 15 players play fast rugby week in, week out.

Australia will miss David Pocock of course but if the 7 jersey is worn by Michael Hooper or Liam Gill, either will do a very good job. I think Rugby League convert Israel Folau of the NSW Waratahs and Nick Cummins of the Western Force will make big impacts if selected.

My pick of the Lions players is Dan Cole, who is technically very good in the scrums and at breakdowns plays like an open side.

Who will win the test series? It will be closely fought out but I think Australia will win 2-1!

At Rugby School, Brock has been coaching the 1st XV backs and running the strength and conditioning programmes. He has played for Steele Bodger’s XV, Major Stanley’s XV and the Penguins and is playing for Samurai in the GB Sevens. He returns to Australia in July to start a course in Education and will play for Nedlands RUFC, Perth, WA. We wish him well.