Fylde travel to Billesley Common on Saturday (ko 15.00) to face Birmingham Moseley, not the Lancastrians’ favourite hunting ground. In the three National One games played between the clubs since Moseley dropped out of the Championship at the end of the 2015-16 season, the Midlanders have a nap hand. Two close matches at the Woodlands (20-25 last season, even closer at the end of October, 22-26) and a thumping defeat in the final game of last season at Billesley Common (57-0) have given Moseley the bragging rights. Fylde will hope for a much closer game on the same ground on Saturday.
There have been many games between the two clubs over the last fifty years or so. Before last season’s opening fixture at the Woodlands, the previous clash was in the 1998-99 season when both were at level two, Allied Dunbar Premiership 2, as it was called in those days.
The Moseley club is one of the aristocrats of English rugby, with a history going back to 1873 and a glittering cast of former international players. This list includes a number from the 1960s, ‘70s & ‘80s such as Colin McFadyean, Nick Jeavons, John Finlan, Nigel Horton, Jan Webster, Martin Cooper, Keith Fielding and Mike Teague.
Traditionally the leading rugby club in Greater Birmingham, Birmingham Moseley’s rich history includes representing Gt. Britain in the 1900 Paris Olympics, providing nine players to defeat the All Blacks in 1972, being a finalist in the first ever RFU knockout cup and winning the EDF trophy at Twickenham in 2009.
The Club’s old ground was the Reddings and they moved to the splendid new ground at Billesley Common in 2005. Whilst they have had, like so many clubs, their ups and downs, they are still a formidable outfit and Fylde is proud to be locking horns with them once again.
After ten seasons in the Championship, during the majority of which they struggled in the bottom half of the table, Moseley finally lost the battle to avoid relegation in April 2016.
During the summer of 2016, the Club went through a major rebranding exercise, from ‘Moseley’ to ‘Birmingham Moseley Rugby’. The club are re-positioning themselves to make customers, businesses and sponsors more aware of their position as one of the leading sports clubs in the Birmingham area. Off the field the club has one of the largest event venues in the Midlands, with the capacity to entertain up to 1000 guests. The club recognise that to reach its goals it will require significant investment and a sustainable income stream.
The Club finished a respectable 5th in National One last season and sit in 8th place at the moment, with a W10-D2-L9 record to date.
They appointed a new rugby management team last summer, with Richard Protheroe as Director of Rugby working with Head Coach Simon Cross, who doubles up as Breakdown Coach at Worcester Warriors.
The new skipper this season is Buster Lawrence (ex-Rotherham Titans, Wasps & Moseley) who returned to the Club after a spell in Yorkshire. The talented young back five forward comes from a strong sporting family – his father is former England fast bowler, David ‘Syd’ Lawrence. He was an outstanding man of the match at the Woodlands in October.
Their leading points scorers are James Dixon (62) and Sam Hollingworth (50) who have shared the fly-half role so far this season. Leading try scorers are backrower Ciaran Moore with 10 tries, followed by winger Mark Harrison with 8 and no 8 Chris Brightwell with 6.
Fylde make two changes in their starting line-up, with lock Nick Ashcroft and no 8 David Fairbrother returning to the pack. The backs are unchanged. Sale Sharks dual registered prop Jake Pope joins the replacements.
15 Tom Carleton; 14 Henry Hadfield, 13 Chris Briers, 12 Connor Wilkinson, 11 James Bailey; 10 Greg Smith, 9 Alex Dolly; 1 Adam Lewis (c), 2 Alex Loney, 3 Mark Irving, 4 Nick Ashcroft, 5 Olli Parkinson, 6 Will Hopwood, 7 Tom Burtonwood, 8 David Fairbrother.
16 Jake Pope, 17 Ben Gregory, 18 Matt Garrod, 19 Ben Vernon, 20 Luke Fowden.