Cornish Pirates – what a splendid name for a rugby team! Gilbert & Sullivan
would be pleased to know that the Pirates of Penzance are still in business!
Penzance & Newlyn does not have the same ring about it, but it does at least
tell the opposition where they are located.
The club was formed as late as 1945 and is thus one of the youngest teams in
National League One. In 2005/06 the Pirates played temporarily at a ground,
Kenwyn Hill, in Truro, but the following season they moved to the Recreation
Ground in Camborne which now has capacity for 6,000, of which 1,800
spectators can be accommodated in the stand. Throughout, however, the
headquarters and training ground of the club has remained in Penzance.
Camborne was the centre of Cornish tin and copper mining and at one time
boasted the deepest mine in Britain. Several of the present players are
descendants of the tough miners of that era and, as Moseley players know to
their cost, are mightily proud of their Celtic heritage.
Penzance is located on the shores of Mount’s Bay, a body of water dominated
by the grandeur of St Michael’s Mount, and only ten miles from Lands End. It
is Cornwall’s largest and most westerly town with a population of 63,000,
not many to sustain a position in National League One. Newlyn is very
different. It was a fishing and tin mining village, a few miles round the
bay to the south.
The Cornish Pirates squad is a fully professional outfit which is coached
now by Mark Hewitt, following the departure of Australian Jim McKay, the
previous Director of Rugby. The club’s ambition is to gain promotion to the
Premiership and field a full team of Cornishmen in it.
During the summer, however, there was a considerable turnaround of players,
involving significant spending. Among many other changes, Gareth Steenson,
the Pirates leading points scorer last season, left the club, but Ben
Gulliver, the ex Coventry second row forward, is now on board.
The club’s greatest achievement was to win the EDF Energy National Trophy at
the end of the 2006-07 season by beating West Country rivals, Exeter Chiefs,
19-16. Since promotion from National League 2 at the end of season 2002-03,
P & N have consistently been in the higher ranks of National League One:
Last season in the League honours between our two clubs were even with a
home win apiece. In December ‘07 Pirates won 15-7, but in April 08 Moseley
won 29-20 in a splendid win during an end of season high.
After eight matches played, the relative positions in League One of Moseley
and the Pirates are:
P W D…L Pts Position
Penzance and Newlyn 8 3 1….4 17 9th
Moseley 8 3 0 5 16 10th
Close, very close!
Last Saturday the Pirates drew 24-24 at Doncaster, while Moseley lost at
Plymouth 17-26. The match at Camborne, however, will be played on Sunday,
For the second time in eight days Moseley’s players and support face an even
longer drive down into the far west country, knowing that, in their past two
matches, their play has deserved better than the final scores would
indicate. If Moseley’s drift down the table is to be halted, there is an
urgent need to reduce the number of penalties conceded, especially on our
own ball, and improve both decision making and concentration. The coaches
have a lot to do in a short time. We wish them well.
CORNISH PIRATES – Cornish Pirates v Moseley
Sunday 26th October
Head coach: Mark Hewitt
Fifth place last season must have been a disappointment for Camborne-based
Pirates after another summer of heavy spending. There has again been a
considerable turn around in players, including the departure of leading
points scorer Gareth Steenson, but Pirates - who now have ex-Cov second row
favourite Ben Gulliver on board as well as Brett Davey as backs coach - look
to have recruited well and will push for the top three.
In: Nat Saumi (full-back, Plymouth), Richard Bright (full-back, Exmouth),
Aisea Havili (winger, Worcester), Marika Vakacegu (winger, Pertemps Bees),
Tom Luke (centre, Doncaster), Rhys Jones (fly-half, Sale), Doug Sanft
(fly-half, CRL Madrid), Nicky Griffiths (scrum-half, Pertemps Bees), Scott
Franklin (prop, Brive), Paul Andrew (prop, Mounts Bay), Ben Gulliver (lock,
Plymouth), Michael Burak (lock, Pau), Bertrand Bedes (No,8, Pau), Chris
Morgan (flanker, Newbury).
Out: Vunga Lilo (full-back, Bristol), Ali Koko (wing), Nick Buckley (centre,
Rotherham), Sam Parsons (centre, Redruth), Gareth Steenson (fly-half,
Exeter), Richard Bolt (scrum-half, Exeter), Nathan Kemp (hooker, Jersey),
Scott Hobson (lock, Bath), Chris Cracknell (flanker, Exeter), Tim Cowley
(No.8, Bourgoin), Stan McKeen (back row, Oxford Univ).