Today we commence the new season by welcoming Loughborough Students who, after a slow start last season, finished in a commendable mid-table spot. The two matches between the sides last year resulted in an away victory for each side and in the game at Loughborough, Andy Davies broke his leg but returned to play before the end of the season.
Both sides will no doubt have changes in personnel from last season and we wish all newcomers in both teams an enjoyable season in this highly competitive league.
New teams to the league are Doncaster Knights, who were relegated from the Championship and are most people’s favourites to go straight back up. Hull Ionians, who came with a late surge to take National 2 North and Worthing, winners of the play-off, and old friends Henley.
Apart from Donny, all the others may find the going hard and the main challengers for the league will emanate from the ‘money belt’ of England around the M25 both Rosslyn Park, Blackheath and Esher may have successful seasons and the strugglers – who knows – I will tell you next April!
Some of the first round games are interesting with Blackheath at Doncaster, Esher at Richmond and Rosslyn Park well strengthened, at Cinderford but Cinderford are always difficult to beat.
Neighbours Tynedale travel to newcomers Henley with a strengthened side from last season and providing they improve last season’s away record, they should return with a victory.
It would also be interesting to see how Worthing take to the long travels North when they go to Wharfedale – a crucial game for both sides who look as if they may well struggle during the season.
Most of our long travels, apart from Worthing and Esher, are before Christmas and any supporters wishing to travel please let me know and I will include you in the train ticket application.
Another visitor today is former player Alan Robson who played in the glory years in the 60’s along with Bartle, Gustard, Groom, Davidson and props Powell and Walker. Alan currently lives in South Africa to where he emigrated many years ago and George Groom has circulated a few friends, Alan’s (he never had many!!) and they will be joining us for lunch. Blaydon RFC hope you enjoy your visit and that it brings back many memories of your appearances on the wing! Have a good trip and regards to Marian and your family.
Next week’s game is up the valley at Tynedale where no doubt we will know that we have been in a game – please make the trip to support us.
Finally, many thanks to our sponsors for their generous contributions without which we would struggle and I hope that by the end of the season, they feel that their investments will be worth while.
Also thanks today to our Match Ball Sponsor and the Match Sponsors – THE SUPPORTERS’ ASSOCIATION.