Author Archives: Lucy Ryland

George Stephenson Memorial Match

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Plymouth Albion will play host to a very special post-season charity match on Bank Holiday Sunday (May, 27) in memory of former Plymouth College student George Stephenson who died, aged 24, after a two-year battle with leukaemia.

The game at Brickfields will be contested by two teams close to George’s heart. A ‘George Stephenson XV’ will feature good friends from his year group at Plymouth College, many of whom dominated the rugby pitch while at school, not least England and Exeter Chiefs player Henry Slade. Their opponents will be OPM RFC, a club George represented for several seasons, and comprises former Plymouth College pupils.

George had a raft of skills and talents. He excelled in a host of sports, particularly rugby and cricket, and was an exceptionally gifted musician. However, George was never arrogant about his abilities and was regarded by all who knew him as a caring and supportive friend who always prioritised the needs of others.

He was a tenacious rugby player, making the scrum-half position his own from a young age and was renowned for making some of the biggest tackles ever seen on the Plymouth College fields at Ford Park and Delgany. As a youngster, George also played for Devonport Services, Plymstock RFC and Ivybridge RFC, and was a regular fixture in the Devon RFU setup. He spent some time training with Exeter Chiefs before heading off to play a prominent role with the First XV at Bath University, where he studied for four years before graduating with a degree in Chemical Engineering.

George was also a talented cricketer, following in the footsteps of his Grandfather, Harold Stephenson, who represented Somerset County Cricket Club. His extraordinary power on the cricket field was legendary and, during his time with the school First XI and Plymouth CC, George was selected for county honours with Devon.

George, who died last September, remained positive and upbeat throughout his illness, as well as characteristically generous and altruistic, dedicating himself to raising money for the young people’s cancer charity, CLIC Sargent. To this end, he performed in a series of seven concerts, to raise money for CLIC.

The match kicks off at 3pm and all proceeds from the raffle and auction will be donated to CLIC Sargent to support their invaluable work helping youngsters and their families, after a cancer diagnosis.

The rugby game follows a similar event hosted at George’s home cricket club, Plymouth CC, which saw a great turnout and raised £1800 for the charity.

Friend of the family and Albion director Kevin Norris says: “We would love to see as many people down at Albion on the day, enjoying the rugby and raising money for a great cause that was clearly very dear to George’s heart.”

Special thanks are due to the Norris family and Plymouth Albion for their hard work organising the event.

 

Plymouth Albion Celebrate Successful Season

Dean Squire

More than 150 guests attended a glitzy black-tie event to celebrate the end of the season at Plymouth Albion.

Sponsored by Black Rock Beach Resort, the players’ awards dinner recognised and highlighted the club’s achievements during the 2017/18 season.

With a second successive top three finish in National League One, head coach Kieran Hallett was delighted with his team’s performances and resilience. He said: “It has been a tough season with a few ups and downs but I think the way we pulled together as a squad to get through the adversity we faced has been the biggest highlight.

“Seeing the guys welcome younger players and accept them into the fold showed the strength of the bond within the squad and that is something tangible for us to further improve on next year.”

Eight player awards in total were announced on the night and presented by Hallett in front of an audience of players, directors, staff, sponsors, supporters and corporate guests.

Best Try of the Year, sponsored by Plymouth City Bus, was awarded to centre Dean Squire for his score against Hull Ionians during Albion’s 29-3 bonus point victory at Brickfields in December. Albion stunned the visitors off a line-out deep in their half and swung the ball out fast and wide, leaving Squire to run around his opposite number and score Albion’s crucial bonus point try.

Also sponsored by Plymouth City Bus was the award for Clubman of the Year. This was picked up by back row forward Eoghan Grace in recognition of his hard work for the club both on and off the field. Grace has been instrumental within the club’s community department, taking rugby and its core values into schools across Plymouth and delivering holiday camps at Brickfields to youngsters aged six to 16 years.

Fellow flanker Dan Williams was named Most Inspiring / Motivating Player of the Year – an award sponsored by Hartley Dental. Williams was sidelined for much of the season with a subscapularis tear in his shoulder but returned to action in February and took over the number eight shirt and captaincy in the absence of the injured Herbie Stupple.

Hallett describes the 29-year-old father-of-two as a natural leader: “He is one of those guys who, whether captain or not, will always lead from the front.”

Prop forward Dan Pullinger received the Players’ Player of the Year Award, sponsored by Steak & Omelette, while the Coaches’ Player of the Year was sponsored by Paramount 21 Ltd and awarded to hooker Jamie Salter.

Luke Chapman picked up two awards – Most Improved Player of the Year, sponsored by Plymouth Performance Gym, and the Captain’s Cup, sponsored by Kioo Marketing.

The final award of the night, sponsored by CE Consult, was the Albion Award for the player that consistently portrays the characteristics that define what it means to be an Albion player, namely excellence in performance, work rate, honesty, accountability and adaptability. The winner of this special accolade was Dean Squire.

The event served as a fitting finale to an arduous season that involved an unprecedented five postponed fixtures – away at Birmingham Moseley and home against Bishop’s Stortford, Rosslyn Park and Loughborough students – twice! As a result, players, coaches and staff fulfilled an extended season which culminated in Albion’s bonus point victory over Loughborough Students on May 12 to secure third place.

The event was also supported by Champion Butchers, James Kittow Butchers, Tamar Fresh and Tolchards.

Plymouth Albion Win Social Media Award

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Plymouth Albion has been named social media team of the season for National League One by the National Clubs Association (NCA Rugby) in their end of season awards.

The club has been recognised for engaging online with regular news articles as well as team news and up-to-date reporting on matchdays across platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

Albion PR Manager Lucy Ryland says: “It is really great to be recognised for the efforts we have made in social media and PR this year. The improvement in the club’s activities is thanks to a large team of volunteers who not only cover match reporting and social media feeds on game days but also undertake filming throughout the season to enhance our content.

“I would particularly like to thank Plymouth Marjon University sport journalism students Tim March and Rob Tunley and their senior lecturer Mike Baker who have made a huge contribution.”

NCA Rugby administers rugby’s national leagues, represents the 48 Clubs in National Leagues 1, 2, North and South, handles league disciplinary matters, liaises with the RFU and produces the leagues’ fixture lists.

The awards were sponsored by insurance company Your Protection Limited.

NCA End of Season Awards

Plymouth Albion 33 Loughborough Students 19

Jamie Salter of Plymouth Albion goes over for a try slipping the tackle from Callum Watson of Loughborough Students during the National Division 1 match between Plymouth Albion v Loughborough Students at the Brickfields Recreation Ground on May 12th 2018, Plymouth, Devon, UK. PHOTO: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

Plymouth Albion finished their long-winded season off in style to secure third in National League One with a powerful bonus point win over Loughborough Students at Brickfields.

It is an impressive end to an injury-riddled year for the city side, who finish the campaign with 20 wins, two draws and eight losses.

Loughborough, who barely scraped through the season, put up a surprising level of fight, providing the crowd with a close fought game for 50 minutes.

Head coach Kieran Hallett was not surprised with Loughborough’s spirited play, he said:

“I didn’t think it would be an easy game as there are no easy games in this league.

“Fair play to Loughborough, they played well, but in the end, were too much for them.”

“There were a lot of tired bodies, I think a few of the guys need to refresh mentally as well, it’s been a long old slog as we haven’t really had any time off since Christmas, so it’s been difficult.”

Captain, Herbie Stupple, agreed with his coach, saying:

“I think they were always going to bring something, I didn’t think it was going to be that much of a fight but that was probably a good thing since we didn’t want to finish the season on an easy note.”

“I think there were a lot of tired bodies, clearly mine included, but the boys deserve a bit of a wind down after the performance they put in today.”

Reflecting on a season marred by injury and poor weather postponements, Hallett stressed his praise for the side, while already eyeing the future, saying:

“I’m incredibly proud of what they’ve done, they’ve had to deal with a lot of stuff this year, but their focus on achieving goals has been unwavering.”

“Hopefully we should have some new signings to announce over the next few days and weeks, we’re trying to get that squared away as soon as we can, I’m really excited for the squad we’re putting together next year.”

Stupple also reflected on his own season, he said:

“It’s been brilliant, I just wish I could have led the side out on a few more occasions, but we finished strong and got third place which was really good in the end.”

Albion would go down early after a collision in the air from kick off posted Loughborough in the corner for a sustained attack, eventuating in a William Attfield try after three minutes of play. His kick would be converted by Owen Waters, to put the visitors up 7-0.

Hardly disheartened by the initial setback, Albion kicked for the corner after their first awarded penalty. Loughborough held for a time, but the plethora of attacks ran the visitors into trouble, culminating in Andrew Beywater seeing yellow.

The determination paid off for Albion as the side got the ball out with criss-crossing passes for Matthew Shepherd to win a foot race to the corner.

The well-rested students looked physical in the first half, taking the breakdown to Albion’s line, which led to early stops for injured players to regain their footing. With two weeks of rest comes slow hands though, as Loughborough dropped forward as many times as they could muster attacks towards the posts.

Dean Squire would unshackle his pace to threaten the touchline on the 30-minute mark, and his run had fans on their feet with the anticipation of a second home try, but poor offloading rushed any hope.

Some questionable penalty decisions set up Loughborough for extended stint in Albion’s 22, but the city side held commendably strong for 10 gruelling minutes of play before students used the help of one of the posts to send their number eight, Luke Frost over.

Thankfully, in what has become a habit for Albion over the last month, one try was immediately met with a reply. Enjoying a bit of green grass to play with, Harrison Cully would gather in to stretch his legs in a long break down the wing, with a smart offload popping its way out for Jamie Salter to score his second in two weeks.

The difference at the half was tight, with just a missed conversion separating the two sides 14-12.

The second half kicked off with both sides firing on all cylinders, but not quite having enough to pay dividends.

The breakthrough came after 10 minutes in favour of the home side. For the second week in a row, youngster Robbie Weeks, used intelligent play to intercept the ball swinging out wide. Nobody was home for Loughborough to stop the run, leaving Weeks to score an impressive fourth try in two weeks. Skinner would add the extras to give the five-point lead.

And so the momentum would swing back a last time to favour of the visitors, as two missed tackles from a lineout in Loughborough territory, would allow a pacey run to develop for the wing, Will Forster to score, the missed conversion would level the game and once again ramp up the pressure with 15 minutes remaining.

Needing a win to secure third place, Albion played with passion that begun to whittle down the students, and the older heads in the side shone through.

Shepherd would score his second on the afternoon with an outstanding run, followed by another score from Lewis Pearson three minutes later from a well worked back-line play. Both conversions found their mark to finalise the days score.

With the game out of reach, play would breakdown into a series of scrums and line-outs, before the final whistle would blow and end Albion’s exasperated season on a high.

Plymouth Albion:

15 Matthew Shepherd, 14 Jordan Gott, 13 Dean Squire, 12 Robbie Weeks, 11 Harrison Cully, 10 Harvey Skinner, 9 Cameron Setter, 1 William Norton, 2 James Salter, 3 Luke Chapman, 4 Lewis Pearson, 5 Sean Lonsdale, 26 Daniel Williams, 7 Jack Innard, 8 Herbie Stupple (C)

Replacements:

18, James Kenny, 19 Setariki Raumakita, 28 Benjamin Phillips, 20 Luke Flack, 21 Joe Snow

Loughborough:

15 William Attfield, 14 Jack Stapley, 13 Richard Lewis, 12 Christopher Davies, 11 Will Foster, 10 Owen Waters, 9 Callum Watson, 1 Samuel Grahamslaw, 2 Harrison King, 3 George Davis, 4 Theo Vukasinovic, 5 Henry Wheadon, 6 Andrew Bywater, 7 Andrew Boyce, 8 Luke Frost

Replacements:

16 Jamie Cox, 17 Joshua Toms, 18 Samuel Bailey, 19 William Findlay, 20 Timothy Bitirim

Tries:

Albion: 5 (Shepherd 2, Salter, Weeks, Pearson)

Loughborough: 3 (Attfield, Frost, Foster)

Penalties: 0

Conversions:

Albion: 4 (Skinner)

Birmingham: 2 (Waters)

Cards:

Yellow- 1

Loughborough: Bywater

Red-0

Attendance: 1013

Man of the Match: Matthew Shepherd

Albion Announce Two New Signings Ahead of Season Finale

Fraser Honey of Cornwall (Bury St Edmonds) is tackled by Spenser Sutherland of Surrey (Esher) during the Bill Beaumont Cup Match between Cornwall and Surrey at the Recreation Ground on May 4th 2018, Redruth Cornwall- Photo: Simon Bryant/PPAUK

Plymouth Albion are up against Loughborough Students at Brickfields tomorrow (Saturday, May 12) for the final game of their National League One season (KO 3pm).

The two sides were last matched in November at Loughborough’s University Stadium when Albion achieved a good seven tries to four victory 49-28.

Since then, the return fixture has been postponed twice and, as a result, is the final remaining game of the whole National League One calendar.

While the result will not affect promotion or relegation standings, a win for Albion would mean a third-place finish.

Loughborough Students sit just three points clear of the drop zone in 13th position.

Meanwhile, two new signings have been announced that will boost the Albion squad for next season.

Fly-half Fraser Honey joins from National League Two side Bury St Edmunds, while 28-year-old hooker Davy McGregor returns to the fold for his third stint at the club.

Head coach Kieran Hallett is delighted to have secured the services of 21-year-old Honey: “He is someone I have known about for a couple of years now. We had a look at him last summer but it didn’t quite come together, so I’m really happy we have managed to bring him on board.

“It is a big step up for him as he hasn’t played at this level before but the kid can play, he’s got some good skill sets and I am looking forward to having him here.”

Honey, from Holsworthy, says he was attracted to Plymouth by the club’s ambition: “I love the direction the club is heading in and to be given a chance to be part of it is great. The opportunity to work with Kieran will be massive for my development as he was a very good 10.”

The former Cornish All Black, who featured for the county in their 15-15 draw with Surrey at Camborne last Saturday, has had a successful season and, with 168 points, was his team’s top scorer.

He adds: “From a team point of view it’s fair to say we underachieved but, personally, I was very happy with the form I showed. Working with the likes of Ollie Smith and Kevin Maggs was fantastic for my game.

“Next season I want to work hard and push on with my development, show Kieran and the boys what I can do and, hopefully, pick up as much game time as possible.

“My long-term goal is to get to the top two tiers of English rugby but, first and foremost, I want to concentrate on training and performing well for Plymouth.”

Front row forward Davy McGregor left the club four years ago but says he has always kept a close eye on Albion’s affairs, both on and off the field: “My last stint at the club was the most enjoyable season of my professional career and I made very close friends with some of those still playing and supporting the club. This made it an easy decision to come back.

“I feel that Albion is my ‘home’ club and the chance to represent it again is extremely appealing.”

The Ulsterman returned to Devon around 18 months ago and has been playing for South West Premier side Exmouth: “I decided I would come back to live here with my partner and kids, pursue a career in teaching and work on my gym equipment manufacturing business.

“My goal with Albion is to get my head down and work hard so I can add something positive to what is already a great squad. I look forward to competing with Salts and whoever else wants the number two shirt.

“I want to prove to myself that I can still compete at a high standard and am looking forward to catching up with the lads and helping the club’s thriving community section.”

Hallett values the positive approach he believes McGregor will bring to the squad: “Davy is a good bloke who loves the club and wants to be part of what we are doing. Having someone around with that attitude will be a great help. He will also provide depth and competition in that hooker slot.”

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For the Loughborough game, the club is offering deals for students and serving and former military personnel.

Students can gain ground entry for £7.50 on production of an NUS card, representing a saving of 50% off the usual price of £15, while serving and former military personnel can gain entry for £10 with valid ID, saving £5 off the usual price.

Plymouth Albion team to face Loughborough Students at Brickfields on Saturday, May 12 (KO 3pm).

15 Matt Shepherd, 14 Jordan Gott, 13 Dean Squire, 12 Robbie Weeks, 11 Harrison Cully, 10 Harvey Skinner, 9 Cameron Setter, 1 Will Norton, 2 Jamie Salter, 3 Luke Chapman, 4 Lewis Pearson, 5 Sean Lonsdale, 6 Dan Williams, 7 Jack Innard, 8 Herbie Stupple.

Replacements

16 James Kenny, 17 Benjamin Phillips, 18 Luke Flack, 19 Seta Raumakita.

Hallett Wants To Finish Season On A High Note

Plymouth Albion Head Coach, Kieran Hallett during the National Division 1 match between Plymouth Albion v Rosslyn Park at the Brickfields Recreation Ground, on May 5th 2018, Plymouth, Devon, UK. PHOTO: Cameron Geran/PPAUK

Plymouth Albion welcome Loughborough Students to Brickfields this Saturday, May 12, for the final game of their National League One season (KO 3pm).

Originally scheduled for January 20, the tie was postponed when the visitors deemed the pitch unplayable and a subsequently re-arranged fixture – on March 31 – was called off due to a waterlogged pitch.

Last week Albion romped to a nine-try, 53-14 win over Rosslyn Park, while Loughborough’s last game was a 24-17 defeat the previous week against Darlington Mowden Park.

Head coach Kieran Hallett was pleased with both the scoreline and performance: “Look, we know Rosslyn Park didn’t put their strongest side out. They had guys on holiday, or whatever, and injuries. They only fielded 17 players in the squad but that’s been our scenario for the past month and we just have to get on with it. From our point of view we can only beat who’s in front of us and we did a good job of doing it.

“I was very happy with how we played and we are looking to finish on a high this weekend.”

Albion again made use of Exeter Academy’s under 18s, naming four in the match day squad and centre Robbie Weeks was the stand out performer with a hat-trick of tries.

Hallett values the youngsters’ contribution: “They have been very important in the last few weeks but also looking ahead as well.  It’s exciting that they have not only adapted to playing at this level quickly, but they are starting to excel. They are all going to be with us next year so seeing them getting that experience and game time now is really good for them.

“It means we have more competition for places once we get everyone back fit.”

Hallett is keen to get the Loughborough fixture under way at the third time of asking.

“We are just looking forward to finishing the season with another home win and we will have to work hard to do it. Hopefully the sun will be out, we get a decent crowd and finish on a high note.”

Overall, the former fly-half is very satisfied with his first full season at Albion’s helm.

“Last year was made easy by the way the guys were playing but this season has been a lot more challenging. If you look at the changes that happened over the summer and other challenges we had to face, I think we have done incredibly well to finish fourth and hopefully push on and finish third.

“Seeing the young lads perform well the last few weeks has been a big highlight. I think for me it is just seeing the guys develop and get better as the season has gone on. We did lose some good players last summer and we didn’t have the money to replace like for like. The guys we brought in took a while to find their feet but now we are getting back to a level where we can be really competitive again.

“Losing at home to Coventry and losing that record was a disappointment but there is absolutely no shame in losing two home games in two years to two sides that have been promoted.

“We are looking to carry on that unbeaten record again and, once the season starts, hopefully we will be pushing up near that top spot.”

Regarding this week’s squad, Hallett explains it will look very similar to last week’s: “There won’t be too many changes as we didn’t pick up any injuries from the weekend so we should be OK.

“We have Seta Raumakita back from Navy rugby duty. He played very well in the Army Navy game at Twickenham last weekend and hasn’t been able to train but is there if we need him.“

Dual-registered Exeter scrum half Joe Snow has been away training with England Under 20s this week but may also back in the mix.

Hallett explains: “We are a little bit up in the air but we are kind of used to that at this stage.”

The club is offering deals for this game for students and serving and former military personnel.

Students can gain ground entry for £7.50 on production of an NUS card, representing a saving of 50% off the usual price of £15, while serving and former military personnel can gain entry for £10 with valid ID, saving £5 off the usual price.

Plymouth Albion team to face Loughborough Students at Brickfields on Saturday, May 12 (KO 3pm).

 15 Matt Shepherd, 14 Jordan Gott, 13 Dean Squire, 12 Robbie Weeks, 11 Harrison Cully, 10 Harvey Skinner, 9 Cameron Setter, 1 Will Norton, 2 Jamie Salter, 3 Luke Chapman, 4 Lewis Pearson, 5 Sean Lonsdale, 6 Dan Williams, 7 Jack Innard, 8 Herbie Stupple.

Replacements

16 James Kenny, 17 Benjamin Phillips, 18 Luke Flack, 19 Seta Raumakita.

 

Dan Mugford Bids ‘Au Revoir’ to Plymouth Albion

Dan Mugford of Plymouth Albion converts the try scored by Sam Daly of Plymouth Albion during the National Division 1 match between Plymouth Albion v Caldy at the Brickfields Recreation Ground, on February 3rd 2018, Plymouth, Devon, UK. PHOTO: Cameron Geran/PPAUK

Fly-half thanks club, supporters and sponsors in his out-going interview

Plymouth Albion fly-half Dan Mugford has announced he is off to pastures new after just one season back at the club.

Mugford, formerly of London Scottish, Nottingham Rugby and Sale Sharks, has signed for an undisclosed Rugby Pro D2 team in central France.

He says: “It was a really hard decision as I have enjoyed my season back home in Devon but I think it is time to start to push my rugby on to that next stage.

“Pro D2 is a good level of rugby. It is a big deal over there and I am looking forward to getting stuck into it.”

The 26-year-old, who left Sale 12 months ago, says: “It has been well reported that I came here in not a great space but actually it has really helped me on and off the field being part of Plymouth Albion as a club.

“That includes all the lads, the coaches, everyone behind the scenes and also all the fans.”

The former Exeter Academy player took the opportunity to wish Albion all the best for the future: “I hope they can have a great season and get to the next level and, never say never, I might be back one day!”

Mugford was enjoying a successful season before he ruptured a finger tendon against Caldy in February and went on to break his arm in the gym. He says: “My arm is getting there. I would have liked to have been able to run out with the boys one last time in front of the crowd but it’s not to be. Unfortunately, having had a chat with the doctors, the contact side is the problem and that’s a real shame.

“But I am moving on and slowly it is getting there day by day and step by step.”

Mugford explains his next move is about challenging himself – both on and off the field.

“It is about pushing my rugby on to that next stage. It is something completely new. I don’t speak French and have never spent much time in France so it is going to be a real challenge and something completely different from what I have done before. The level of rugby is a slight increase and that is going to be a great test for my skill.

“I am looking forward to getting out there and testing myself against some great players and hopefully doing what I can to help the team push forward.”

The 26-year-old has already achieved much in his short career but is keen to keep enjoyment as the main focus.

“To be honest, I am not looking too far ahead. You always want to be playing at as high a level as possible and that is still my objective. For much of this year I didn’t really focus on that too much which allowed me to enjoy the present, being here and playing week in week out and I think that’s the way forward for me. It is just about enjoying what I am doing at the time and seeing what comes from it. There is no need to put on too much pressure to be playing at the highest level. Obviously that’s the end goal and that’s brilliant but at the end of the day it’s here and now, it’s today that counts, so that’s what I am looking to do from here on in.

“I can’t thank everyone enough for accepting me with open arms and supporting me. It’s been tough at times but has been made so much easier by everybody involved on and off the field, from the lads in the changing room, to the coaching staff, the supporters and all those behind the scenes. Dave Venables the owner has been phenomenal and I hope one day I can come back and repay that faith in me.”

Head coach Kieran Hallett says: “Dan has been great. He is a classy player who has worked hard for us this year. His injuries were disappointing but he put everything into being here which we thank him for and we wish him all the best.”

Season Ticket Offers

Season Ticket - Web Slider

Take advantage of our early bird season ticket offers*:

Season ticket application forms are now available from the club office and there are some very special deals, with a ground season ticket from just £195 – including £40 loaded on a members’ card to spend at Albion.

Season ticket price list:

Grandstand – £247 (Concession – £182) with £50 to spend at Albion**

SW Comms – £221 (Concession – £163) with £45 to spend at Albion**

Ground – £195 (Concession – £143) with £40 to spend at Albion**

1/2 Season (8 tickets for selected games)

Grandstand – £135 (Concession £100) with £25 to spend at Albion**

SW Comms – £120 (Concession £88) with £20 to spend at Albion**

Ground – £105 (Concession £77) with £15 to spend at Albion**

*Offer expires end of May 2018.

**Loaded on member’s card and redeemable against club merchandise and in house food and drink.

Season Ticket - Full Info 2018-19

Call (01752) 565064 to book or email info@plymouthalbion.com