BIG MATCH PREVIEW - Cornish Pirates

- by PETER WOODROOFE 


CORNISH PIRATES v MOSELEY, National League Division 1, at The Recreation Ground, Camborne, Sunday, September 17, 2006, KO 2.30 pm


And now for something completely different! Moseley play Cornish Pirates at Camborne next Sunday… Why Cornish Pirates? Why Camborne? Why next Sunday?

A conundrum solved…
Well, Cornish Pirates was born out of the Penance and Newlyn club, which was, as its name suggests, an amalgamation of two clubs, founded in 1945. The newly-branded Cornish Pirates is an attempt to put Cornish rugby into the Premiership.

Cornwall has always been a hotbed of rugby union, but its position at the tip of the country has made it difficult for clubs to exert any influence in the game. It was only through the County Championship - with Cornwall early winners in 1908 and runners-up in 1909 – and any progress the County Cup winners or Merit Table leaders made in the RFU Senior Cup since 1971-2, that brought Cornish rugby to wider-ranging attention.

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Since the arrival of the Carling Clubs championship in 1987-8 however, Cornish clubs have made their way through to the higher Leagues – Penzance in National 1 and Redruth and Launceston in National 2.

But now, with such clubs as these forming the springboard, backers have come forward, willing to put Cornish rugby into the Premiership. With no great influence of Association Football in the region, and with rugby union on a solid base, the opportunity is there for the entrepreneur.

Penzance and Newlyn, the highest placed Cornish club in the League structure, having been promoted to National 1 in 2003-4, have been the first pitch for the Premiership through forming the Cornish Pirates.

What’s in a name

Penzance and Newlyn were known as The Pirates – probably because of what went on around the coast of Cornwall where smugglers abounded and later fuelled by the famous and Gilbert and Sullivan opera, The Pirates of Penzance, written in 1879.

So, they have kept Pirates in their re-branded name, though there was disappointment when Cornish Pirates decided to play their 1st XV games at the Old Cathedral Ground, Kenwyn Hill on the outskirts of Truro, rather than Penzance’s ground at Mennaye Field.

This was mainly because of Kenwyn’s capacity with two stands that stretch the length of the pitch providing seating for 4,500 people. Kenwyn is also nearer the centre of Cornwall and therefore in a wider catchment area.

President on song
When President Dicky Evans put his vision of the future to a packed Extraordinary Meeting in June 2005 and got support, he must have thought - to quote W.S. Gilbert’s lyrics in the aforementioned Pirates of Penzance:

“It is a glorious thing
To be a Pirate King.”

And then to complete the Pirates of Penzance allusion, when Australian Jim McKoy applied for the post as Head Coach, he could have quoted Gilbert in reference to his meticulous, scientific coaching methods:

“I’m very good at integral and differential calculus,
I know the scientific names of being animalculous,
In short, in matters animal and vegetable and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major General.”

“About binomial theorem, I’m teeming with a lot of news,
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse,
(I can estimate the difference between two exciting players
And ensure that on the field they are the very best displayers.)”

As I cannot remember any more, I’m afraid the last two lines are an appropriate parody illustrating the binomial theorem. A poor one, but my own! (writer).

Enough of this! Apologies to non G & S addicts for the flights of fancy of the writer. It’s better if you know Arthur Sullivan’s music!

High finishes

In their second season in National1, they finished 4th – 20 points behind promoted Bristol, against whom they played two close matches, losing 20-28 at Truro, but winning 19-11 at the Memorial Stadium.

Newcomer fly-half, Welshman LEE JARVIS was the leading points scorer with 235 points and another newcomer, full-back WES DAVIES, was the leading try scorer with 12.

Last season, with their new identity, The Pirates improved to 3rd behind NEC Harlequins and Bedford Blues, winning 19 games – two more than in the previous season.

TOM BARLOW scored 140 points, sharing the kicking duties with LEE JARVIS, who scored 98. RICHARD WELDING was the leading try scorer with 15, including five in the Pirates’ first-ever game at Kenwyn Hill, a 43-13 win over Earth Titans.

Ground change
It’s been a hectic summer for The Pirates. After one season at Truro, they decided to move, because their efforts to improve and advance were thwarted by local council restrictions, though there is still time to consider all the options as discussions on the future Premiership criteria are still continuing.

So the Moseley squad, and supporting faithful, will be travelling to the Camborne Recreation Ground, Cranbury Road, Camborne on Sunday for the itinerant Pirates’ second match there. Sunday, because Camborne play their South West 2 West League matches thereon Saturday afternoons.

The ground holds 9,000 spectators – mostly terracing, though there is a grandstand. However, much will have been done to improve the facilities to cover the demands of National 1 games.

Traditional club
Camborne, founded in 1878, is a traditional rugby club situated at the very hub of Cornish rugby in a former tin mining area.

At the start of League rugby in 1987-8, the club was in Area League south and was the highest placed club in Cornwall. The environment seems particularly appropriate for The Pirates, as half the current squad come from Cornwall.

Departures
The Pirates have lost of all their aforementioned leading scorers – LEE JARVIS, who has moved to Mounts Bay, RICHARD WELDING returning up north to Leeds Tykes and lock WILL JAMES, who had a short spell at Moseley at the start of the professional era, moving to Gloucester.

Arrivals
However, as expected, The Pirates have made significant signings. They include centres HENRY BARRATT from NEC Harlequins and DUNCAN BELL from Newbury Blues, winger JAMES MOORE, formerly of Coventry and the National One leading points scorer last season, with 251 points, including eight tries, winger JOHNNY HYLTON from Worcester, fly-half ALBERTO DI BERNADO from L’Aquila, winger LEWIS VINNICOMBE from Redruth and full-back Cornishman ADRYAN WINNAN from the French club Tarbes, who has played in the Premiership with Saracens.

Newcomers to the pack include Canadian No 8 STAN McKEEN from Pacific Pride, flanker CHRIS CRACKNELL from Newbury Blues and prop SAM HEADR from Redruth.

Also in The Pirates’ side could be DUNCAN ROKE, a strong running back, well-known to Moseley from Henley Hawks, and Worcester and Samoan international flanker IVA MOTUSAGA. An impressive array of talent

So tight
There are already signs that National One is going to be a closely contested Division.

Only Doncaster Knights have maximum points (two wins, two bonus points), while only Earth Titans, Plymouth Albion, two wins apiece, and Pertemps Bees, one win, one draw, are undefeated.

Only Sedgley Tigers and Newbury Blues are pointless.

Take your pick…
After trouncing Otley 39-0 at Camborne, Cornish Pirates came up against uncompromising Waterloo Drummers last Saturday and could only manage one try, by scrum-half and captain GAVIN CATTLE, losing surprisingly 19-16.

ALBERTO Di BERNADO has kicked 25 points to date.

Booster
Moseley venture into Cornwall buoyant after their splendid win over Bedford Blues last Saturday in yet another cliff-hanger encounter between the two clubs.

Offsetting Di Bernado, OLLIE THOMAS has kicked27 points to date.

Concerned about their defence, Moseley will be endeavouring to play a tight game, but will be facing a stiff task at The Recreation Ground. How they cope with the journey and the Sunday morning period before the game and how they adjust to the pace and strength of The Pirates, will be determining factors.

Enjoy…
To the Moseley travelling supporters, enjoy the weekend at a new venue. The players will be much indebted to you for your support. And if you can't travel,
Listen online to live commentary on BBC Cornwall

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