Fylde squad v Birmingham Moseley at the Woodlands on Saturday

Fylde welcome Birmingham Moseley to the Woodlands on Saturday (ko 15.00). Rather like Fylde, they lost a number of senior players in the summer and have had to rebuild a competitive squad. But there’s no doubt that this famous club with such a rich history will pose a serious challenge to the home side as they have a core of players with Premiership and Championship experience as well as some talented youngsters.

Whilst Fylde are propping up National One, Birmingham Moseley are sitting somewhat more comfortably in 9th. Their season has been consistent only in its inconsistency. Good wins over Hull Ionians, Old Albanian and Esher have been interspersed with home defeats to DMP, Blackheath and most recently last Saturday to Bishop’s Stortford. In fact, they have performed rather better away from home than at Billesley Common.

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 (a 20-25 victory to the Midlanders), the previous clash was in the 1998-99 season when both were at level two, Allied Dunbar Premiership Two, 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 recognises 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 scored a double win over Fylde – 20-25 at the Woodlands, 57-0 at Billesley Common.

They have a new rugby management team, 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 is Buster Lawrence (ex-Rotherham Titans, Wasps & Moseley) who returns 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.

There have been a number of other arrivals: props Joe Wrafter (ex-Hartpury) and Jay Tyack (Chinnor), and hooker Ryan Roach (Cardiff Metropolitan University). Potentially coming up against Fylde & the Royal Navy’s David Fairbrother may be two new recruits from the victorious Army squad, flyhalf and goal kicker Lance Corporal James Dixon (ex-Bedwas) and 6’8″ lock Corporal Lewis Bean (representative honours for the Combined Services). Other new forwards include backrowers Laurence Cowan (ex-Hull Ionians) and highly experienced prop James Tideswell who has joined from Cinderford and was previously with Yorkshire Carnegie, London Welsh, London Irish and Stourbridge, where he made his senior debut back in 2003.

New backs include fullback Sam Pointon (ex-Loughborough Students) and accomplished scrum-half with Premiership experience, Rob Lewis, who has joined from London Welsh, and was formerly with Cardiff Blues and Newport Gwent Dragons.

The most established member of the playing squad is veteran hooker Adam Caves who has made almost 350 appearances for the Club. Other prominent forwards include South African born, Portugal international no 8, Jacques Le Roux (ex-Coventry) and former skipper, backrower Chris Brightwell (ex-Birmingham & Solihull, Sale Sharks & Bedford Blues). Influential centre who has been with the Club for a few seasons is Kiwi centre Tim Molenaar, ex-Harlequins, Gloucester & Nottingham.

Leading points scorer is James Dixon with 34, whilst top try scorers with five are winger Mark Harrison (ex-Hartpury College and Gloucester Academy) and Chris Brightwell.

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Fylde make three changes in their starting line-up, with George Brookes named on the right wing, and Jake Pope and Harlan Corrie returning to the pack. Newcomer Luke Fowden (a young cross code talent from Rochdale Mayfield RL) joins the replacements.

15 Tom Carleton; 14 George Brookes, 13 Chris Briers, 12 Connor Wilkinson, 11 Tom Grimes; 1o Greg Smith, 9 Alex Dolly; 1 Jake Pope, 2 Ben Gregory, 3 Adam Lewis, 4 Nick Ashcroft, 5 Harlan Corrie, 6 Ben Vernon, 7 Toby Harrison, 8 David Fairbrother.

16 Mark Irving, 17 Tom Burtonwood, 18 Matt Garrod, 19 Danny Carlton, 20 Luke Fowden.

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