Rugby season restarts this week with the following matches :
1st xv at home to Ponteland - Josh Stacey, Daniel Shuttleworth, Pete Twentyman (Capt) Chris Ward, Adam McDonald, Andy Hall, Ben Merrett, Sean Ramsay, Christian Selkirk, Lewis Chater, Shaun Stewart, Henry Wilson, Jez Nash, Ben Wollerton, Sam Busby, Euan Duncan, Nick Bellamy, Jack Hearn
2nd xv away to Percy Park - Gus Graham, Rhys Gibbons, Luke Menzfeld, Ian Pratt, Andy Gardiner, Neil Spence, Alex Watson, Alex Cleminson, Ian Pratt (Capt) Billy Porter, Jonny Winterhalder, Ben Kelly, John Marshall, Tim Hart, James Bass, David Marshall, Charlie Willis, Rich Zabrocki, Fraser Green, Jonny Bulfin, Rory Davidson
3/4's away to Winlaton - John Watson, Stevie Thompson, Rob Reid, Jeff Burke, Ben Silk, Alan Pitchford, Ryan Crowson, Stephen Wood, Jack Pellew, Ross Glasper, Will Evans, Pete Jones, Tom Burford, Jonny Lowes, Paul Fitch, Paul Sanderson, Justin Taylor
Ponteland arrive in relegation trouble but we shouldn't take them lightly as they are bolstered by the return of some of their uni students. It was these players that were involved in their only win and the squad that nearly beat Durham back at the start of the season.
Novos select a strong squad for the 2019 opener as the front row has consistently involved Josh Stacey, Daniel Shuttleworth and Pete Twentyman. Daniel has had a great season moving up from the 2's and really developed his game on the training pitch. The engine room is completed with Adam McDonald and Chris Ward - Adam was man of the match in this fixture earlier in the season and Chris will be looking to make the most of Tom Cox's unavailability and cement a regular spot. the back row trio sees Andy Hall come back in as he joins first team regulars in Ben Merrett and Sean Ramsay.
There is change in the back line as regulars Paddy Sowter and Rich Harrison are unavailable so Christian Selkirk starts at nine with Lewis Chater putting on the 10 shirt. He will manage an exciting and well balanced back line with Henry Wilson and Jez Nash immediately outside him. Henry has had an outstanding first season in a Novos shirt and will help us in the gain line battle. Out wide we will hope to release Ben Wollerton, Shaun Stewart and Sam Busby.
Novos show the depth of their talented backs as Nick Bellamy and Jack Hearn are named on the bench. We have had some great young players come through from RGS in the bast few seasons - Jonno Wilkes, Bruno Smith, Dan Whitaker, Tommy Bilclough, Henry Wilson to name just a few. However, it is great to see Jack come back into the group as he is one of the best players Dame Allan's School has seen recently. The squad is completed with talented young front rower Euan Duncan.
The squad will be looking to maintain our unbeaten home record which we are incredibly proud of. Saturday will be a tough game as neither squad will have had the usual prep. It will be important to get the basics right and win the front foot battle.
We welcome Rebecca Rees as the referee for the first team game. Looking forward to it as in 40 years of rugby it will only be the second time I've been involved in a match with a female official. I will try find time after the game to chat to Rebecca and perhaps relay the story of the shower scenes after that match !
Happy New Year to the North East rugby community - Up the Vos !
Updated 08:59 - 6 Jan 2019 by Fran Mockford