Fylde welcome National Two (South) club Bury St Edmunds to the Woodlands for a pre-season match on Saturday (ko 15.00), a week ahead of the opening N1 fixture against Cambridge, also at the Woodlands.
This will be the first ever meeting between the two clubs. BSE, Suffolk’s leading club who go under the collective sobriquet of ‘the Wolfpack’, are a very ambitious outfit who have steadily climbed the league structure, from regional feeder divisions through to National Two (South) in 2015-16, and have their collectives eyes on reaching the Championship within five years. They finished a very meritorious 7th in their first season in N2S and were 11th last season. They entertained Fylde National One rivals, Old Albanian, in a pre-season game last Saturday and lost by 21-45.
This has been a very busy close season for the Club reflecting their acute ambition. Two high profile arrivals are former Ireland international centre and Birmingham Moseley coach Kevin Maggs, who becomes their Pro-Am Rugby Director, and former British & Irish Lion and England International Ollie Smith, who has been appointed as Head Coach.
Smith earned five England caps and one for the British and Irish Lions in 2005. He is also well known for his long-standing career at premiership giants Leicester Tigers where he played centre as well as stints at Montpellier and later, Harlequins. More recently he has built a solid career in rugby coaching at a high level, as head coach for Esher RFC whilst the club played in the Championship and more recently with London Welsh in the Aviva Premiership.
Smith said of the twelve or so players recruited over the summer: “I’m really excited by the guys we’ve been able to bring in and how they are going to complement the guys that re-signed for this season. It’s a great mix of players to pick from that gives us strength in depth but also some selection headaches. That competition for places is key to driving the team forward and ultimately what we hope will be a successfully season”.
The newcomers include: Italian tight-head prop Daniele Greco (Viadana & Methven NZ); wing/fullback Jon Yourie (North Walsham); Australian back-five forward Brendan Mitchell (Sunnybank Dragons Premiers, Sunshine Coast Stingrays & Australia 7s training squad); back-five forward William Scholes (Cognac & Cinderford); Zimbabwean centre/fly-half Boyd Rouse (Zimbabwe Sables & Zimbabwe Cheetahs National 7s); centre/wing Dwayne Corcoran (Connacht & Otago training squad); back row forwards Tui Uri (ex-Ipswich RFC) & Yasin Browne (ex-Olympique de Besanco, Cork Constitution RFC, Belfast RFC & former Ireland U’18s).
The squad will make the long journey to Lancashire on Saturday morning and will be staying overnight on Saturday in a St Annes Hotel.
Fylde miss a number of players who are unavailable or injured. New lock Olli Parkinson damaged his ankle at Sedgley Park last Saturday and flanker Jamie Brookes and skipper Greg Nicholls also retired through injury. Head Coach Warren Spragg sees the game as a major opportunity for young players who broke through to the 1st team squad last season as well as the new summer recruits.
The team is skippered by Ben Vernon for the first time.