Fylde name squad v Blackheath at the Woodlands

Fylde begin the final month of the season with one of the most attractive of fixtures when 4th placed Blackheath visit the Woodlands on Saturday (ko 3pm). This will be the latest in a long history of games between these traditional friends and rivals. How appropriate then that some hundred former players, including sixteen former skippers going back to 1963, will be watching the current generation of players do their stuff on the excellent Woodlands pitch!
Fylde have the bragging rights since they returned to National One in 2011, winning all four home matches and with three victories and a draw out of five games at the Rectory Field.
Blackheath have had an excellent season, and have been in the top four in the division throughout. At one stage they looked likely to challenge their local rivals Richmond & Hartpury College for the championship with an opening run of 10 wins in the first 12 fixtures. They have been outstanding at home, winning 11, losing just one (v leaders Richmond), with one draw (v Fylde). They have suffered six away defeats and have rather struggled in the North, losing at Blaydon, Wharfedale & DMP.
It's been particularly heartening in recent seasons to see the restoration of a long run of fixtures between the two clubs following a 13 year gap between 1998 & 2011. These fixtures began 34 years ago and became the traditional opening game of the season before league contests took over in 1992/3. Fylde suffered seven straight defeats between 1981 and 1987 but turned the tables somewhat in the early 1990s when they were regular victors. However, Blackheath then enjoyed a period of dominance but Fylde have come back with double victories in the last three seasons. Overall, Blackheath have won 14, Fylde 14 and there has been one draw. (* = league matches in table below): 
  Woodlands Rectory Field     Woodlands Rectory Field  
1981/2   3-15 Loss 1991/2 21-14   Won
1982/3   12-16 Loss 1992/3 * 9-9   Draw
    9-12 (Cup) Loss 1993/4 * 20-8 Won Won, Won
1983/4 6-50   Loss 1994/5 23-8   Won
1984/5 12-14   Loss 1995/6   * 15-18 Loss
1985/6   6-25 Loss 1997/8 * 6-31 * 16-50 Loss, Loss
1986/7   12-25 Loss 1998/9 * 26-27 * 17-24 Loss, Loss
1987/8 20-13   Won 2011/12 * 28-22 * 22-59 Won, Loss
1988/9 6-44   Loss 2012/13 * 44-28 * 17-14 Won, Won
1989/90   15-7 Won 2013/14 * 33-17 * 31-29 Won, Won
1990/91   15-12 Won 2014/15 * 31-16 * 32-10 Won, Won
        2015/16   * 34-34 Draw
* = league fixtures              
Blackheath RFC was established in 1858 as the world's first club that was open to all. They became known by the nickname 'The Club' in recognition of this and they have carried this sobriquet ever since. They have produced an astonishing list of international players numbering over 120 and in the late 19th century their Rectory Fields ground was the location for numerous England international matches before the foundation of Twickenham in 1910.
Like so many famous old clubs, Blackheath suffered somewhat since the inception of professionalism in the mid-1990s but, nevertheless, have maintained their status in National One (level 3 in the RFU league hierarchy) for the last eleven seasons. Their last relegation was at the end of the 1998/9 season when they dropped out of the Allied Dunbar Premiership 2 division along with Fylde.
The Club is a successful and stable community club in South London and has performed consistently in recent seasons in N1 finishing with 8th, 10th & 8th in the last three seasons. Their Director of Rugby is Colin Ridgway and Head Coach Mike Friday who has been trying to strike a balance between the envied continuity of players at the Rectory Field and improving the squad to enable a serious promotion challenge.
With a number of established players retiring (such as Tom Bason) and other moving on (eg Mike Canty), squad building during the summer was very active with a number of quality players arriving and they have already made their presence felt. These include flanker/no 8 Anders Nilsson (ex-Ealing Trailfinders & Loughborough University); former England U20s backrow or lock Gregor Gillanders (ex-London Scottish, Bedford Blues & Leicester Tigers); other backrow forwards Tom Baldwin (Bath Academy) & Tom Ellis (Cambridge); South African lock Devin Montgomery (WITS University); hooker Scott Wright (ex-Rosslyn Park, Stourbridge, Nottingham & Nuneaton); former England Student's goal kicking fly-half Freddie Gabbitas (ex-Exeter Univ & Bath Academy); wing/fullback Leo Fielding (ex-Cinderford & Chinnor).
The Club have a strong pack in based on a solid frontrow including former Sale Sharks & England Counties prop Aston Croal, who has substantial Premiership experience, locks Tom Stradwick, Devin Montgomery and Gregor Gillanders and backrowers Tom Ellis, Tom Baldwin and James Catt. Their most well known colleague is the outstanding England Counties flanker Dave Allen (formerly with Wasps & Ulster) who has been the Club's top try scorer for a number of seasons, finishing off many powerful driving mauls by his pack, a signature tactic which has proved hugely productive.
Amongst their backline, their most frequent halfback pairing has been scrum-half Jack Walsh and flyhalf Freddie Gabbitas. Dangerous strike runners include centres Markus Burcham and Richard Windsor, winger or fullback Leo Fielding (who scored a couple of tries for Cinderford against Fylde last season) and free scoring wing/centre Geoff Griffiths (formerly Plymouth, Rotherham & Bedford Blues). Freddie Gabbitas (who shares the fly-half spot with Simon Whatling) is National One's leading points scorer with 238.
Their squad is:
15 Freddie Gabbitas; 14 Geoff Griffiths, 13 Markus Burcham (c), 12 Leo Fielding, 11 Jake Lloyd; 10 Simon Whatling, 9 Jack Walsh; 1 Aston Croall, 2 Harry Fry, 3 Terry Read, 4 Devin Montgomery, 5 Shaun English, 6 Freddie Owen, 7 Dave Allen, 8 Anders Nilsson.
16 Conor Mitchell, 17 Kieron Scutt, 18 Tom Ellis, 19 Sam Eydmann, 20 Dan Hamilton.
Fylde make changes three changes in their starting line-up. Amongst the backline, skipper Chris Briers returns to the fullback role and Tom Morton is back at fly-half. In the pack, Jonny Wild is named at tight-head prop. Amonst a very strong set of replacements, prop Adam Lewis and utility back Jordan Dorrington are back in action after injury. 
They lost Sam Beaumont and Simon Griffiths through injury at Darlington Mowden Park, who join the roster of other injured players including Chris Johnson, Warren Spragg, Ralph Dowds, Tim Jeffers Joe Robinson.
15 Chris Briers; 14 Anthony Bingham, 13 Sam Bedlow, 12 Connor Wilkinson, 11 Oli Brennand; 10 Tom Morton, 9 Greg Nicholls; 1 Dan Birchall, 2 Alex Loney, 3 Jonny Wild, 4 Gareth Rawlings, 5 Nick Gray, 6 Evan Stewart, 7 Ben Vernon, 8 Mark Goodman.
16 Adam Lewis, 17 Phill Mills, 18 Paul Arnold, 19 Jordan Dorrington, 20 Scott Rawlings.


Contact Details

Woodlands Memorial Ground
Blackpool Road
Lytham St. Annes
Lancashire FY8 4EL

Telephone: 01253 732200
Fax: 01253 739137
Email: info@fylderugby.co.uk



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