by Glyn Barlow
The challenge of National One rugby starts this weekend when Birmingham Moseley make the trip to Lancashire to take on Fylde.
To try to take positives from last season’s relegation it is indeed welcome to renew fixtures against old friends like Fylde. The last encounter between the two being in 1999, as part of Allied Dunbar Premiership 2, a game Fylde won at home 17-8. Playing in that game was Birmingham Moseley coach Richard Protherough. So time for a bit of revenge this weekend Richard?
In every sense Fylde are a true rugby club with a long history going back to 1919, when a group of businessmen made the (right) decision to start a rugby club instead of a potential soccer team.
Probably the most famous player from the club is Head of World Rugby and former England Grand Slam captain Bill Beaumont. Capped 34 times for England and 7 times for the Lions, Bill sadly played his last game of rugby at the Reddings during the 1982 County Championship.
As well as Beaumont Fylde can also point to Internationals Roger Uttley, Steve Bainbridge and Wade Dooley to underline how successful the club was during its heyday in the 1980’s.
Similar to Moseley Fylde found the onset of the professional era a financial challenge slipping to the National Three North League. The catalyst for change came in Brian Ashton returning to the coaching team along with England World Cup winning wing Jason Robinson, catapulting them back to National One where they finished 10th last season.
Birmingham Moseley supporters may well come across a few familiar faces at the Woodlands. The team’s head coach (and second row) is none other than former Billesley favourite Paul Arnold. As well as his responsibilities for Fylde Paul is now also assistant coach for England U20. During his time at Billesley Arnie made 57 appearances for the club. Let’s hope though this weekend we see his trademark smile in defeat. Joining Paul this season is wing Scott Armstrong, making a move nearer to home having appeared 58 times for Moseley, scoring 4 tries in the process.
In preparation for the new season as well as Armstrong Fylde have recruited back row Mark Lamprey from Sedgley Tigers, New Zealand born lock Jack Turley from Heriots and England Counties U20 fly half Jack Harrison from Peebles.
In pre-season Fylde lost 0-81 to Sale Sharks and beat Sedgley Tigers 34-14.
Birmingham Moseley will be of course looking for a winning start to their National One campaign, building on the two pre-season victories over Welsh opposition.
In last weekends close run game against Carmarthen Quins the team looked to be in control up to half time but unfortunately lost impetus in the second half. Of some disappointment will have been the scrum, so dominant against Neath, failing to fire in the second half following tactical replacements.
On the positive side the back row combinations again proved to be particularly impressive.
Without wishing to draw too many conclusions from just two outings the team seem to be looking to play an expansive game plan which will hopefully yield some entertaining tries for the travelling support and the all-important “W” in the result column come the final whistle.
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