Club prepare for challenges of Midlands 3 (West)
Rugby Lions, in their third season of regrowth, as you would expect have been in a hive of activity over the close season, writes player-coach Rob Dignum.
Very much on the crest of a wave Lions have won 52 out of 54 matches in the past two seasons losing only in National competition at the final and semi final stages respectively.
This season sees the Lions again enter unchartered territory plying their trade in Midlands 3.
Attendance at pre-season has been immense with numbers averaging 30 young men doing their utmost to nail down a starting shirt.
Former Lions favourite Rich Ramsden has sadly had to retire from playing due to an ongoing shoulder injury, he however now takes on the role of Colts and Fitness Coach and he has most certainly not been shy in putting personnel through their paces in some lung bursting sessions that will no doubt pay dividends throughout the season.
Lions 1st XV will most certainly need every ounce of this newly acquired fitness given the start to the season they have been handed by our friends at the RFU - the opening three games possibly the toughest of the season. Indeed we will certainly know where we are at by the end of September.
The opening league game sees Lions travel to promotion favourites Ledbury, who are unbeaten at home in two seasons.
This is quickly followed in successive weeks by the two sides relegated from Midlands 2 last season; Old Leamingtonians and Old Coventrians, both of whom are hell bent on a quick return to Level 7.
Lions’ very successful Development XV have a similarly tough start as they also look to defend their proud cup and league wins from last season.
Great attendance during pre-season coupled with tremendous camaraderie amongst all players will no doubt go a long way toward the Lions and the Development realising any success in 2015-16.
Arguably the most exciting aspect of the forthcoming season however, Lions will also field a 3rds and Colts XV to add to a thriving Ladies and Mini/Junior section.
We are all very proud of this achievement, no mean feat from where we were just 24 short months ago. If you fancy a game, any age or ability, you will be made very welcome at our great club.
Great club, but not always the most liked, I gather. It has taken me some time to understand the histories and general disliking of Lions from some quarters.
Many players came through the Lions Mini/Junior section and then were not able to break into the first or second XV’s for whatever reason and therefore leave with a distinct aversion toward Lions.
Move to present day and access through all sections of the club, indeed the pathway to the 1st XV has never been more accessible, please, come join this wonderful crusade amidst first class facilities and good people, the stigma of yesteryear could not be more fictitious.
Linked to camaraderie and on field success, numbers have elevated recently and Lions are again stronger then the year previous.
A much changed Lions will take the field in a few weeks as we wish those departing well in all of their new adventures: Gaz Bott and Rich Ramsden (retirement), Jack Riley and Danny Campbell (season of rugby over the Atlantic) and Ciaran Wardle (university).
On the flipside a warm welcome to ex-Lions upon their return to the club: Callum Tucker and Neil Davies (pictured above).
Similarly off the field, a warm welcome to others returning to the club, Clive Davies and Steve Tucker who will help manage the senior sides, their wealth of rugby knowledge will no doubt prove invaluable.
Consolidating all the good work from pre-season, Lions have also been involved on the Sevens circuit.
Two tournaments, both brilliantly organised by gracious hosts, Rugy St Andrews and Old Laurentians respectively… two tournaments won.
At St Andrews, Lions were pitched against Newbold in the final and ran out 7-51 victors. A great night was had by all as we partied long into the night aided by excellent live music.
Similarly at Old Laurentians, reaching the final to face the hosts, Lions 28-55, again a great night was enjoyed with players from all teams ignoring their rivalries and actually being quite pleasant to one another!
Our thanks to the organisers of both tournaments, though it may just take some time to recover.
Sevens is a game played by fast, good looking and athletic young men that look okay in a tight top -I am none of these things! Twice everyone else’s age and half as quick… I stood out like a sore thumb!
Regardless, it gained us some more fitness as we Lions go into the season again unsure of what is in store but determined to give a good account of ourselves and keep moving the whole club yet further forward.
With 30 wins from 31 games last season, the one that got away, however, still painfully etched in the memory, this I am certain will no doubt give Lions added hunger in the forthcoming campaign.
Good luck to all sides on an exciting and enjoyable season.