Plymouth Albion today added 26 year old hooker James Penman to their squad for the forthcoming National 1 campaign.
New Zealand born Penman, who previously played for Cambridge, joined Albion on loan at the end of last season and played in their last three Championship matches.
Penman who stands 6’ and weighs 112kgs is an English Qualified Player through his English grandmother.
Penman talking about his permanent move to Albion said, “I had a good opportunity at the end of last season to play some Championship games and I really enjoyed my short time in Plymouth.
“Graham Dawe has been very supportive and he is one of the main reasons why I have signed for next season.
“I will mainly be playing as a hooker but will also provide cover at loose head prop.”
Penman added, “With Graham being an international hooker he will hopefully pass a lot of his knowledge onto me.
“It looks like Plymouth will have a competitive squad next season and hopefully we can go straight back up to the Championship.”
Penman’s arrival at Albion comes two days after the club released hooker Ted Stagg from the second year of his contract.
Stagg subsequently signed for Championship club Doncaster Knights.
Plymouth Albion will be meeting a second Championship side in pre season after agreeing to play Bedford Blues at Brickfields on Saturday 22 August. (Kick off time tbc) Albion have already arranged to play Jersey in St Peter on Saturday 8 August (kick off 5pm). The match against Bedford will give Albion a stern test ahead of their opening National 1 game, which is against Richmond at Brickfields on Saturday 5 September.
Plymouth Albion have agreed to release hooker Ted Stagg from the second year of his two year contract.
25 year old Stagg, who joined Albion last year from London Scottish, has indicated his desire to play at a higher level of rugby than National 1.
Taunton born Stagg last season made 18 Championship appearances for Albion as well as 2 in the British & Irish Cup
Three Exeter Chiefs players link up with Plymouth Albion
Plymouth’s strong links with Exeter will continue after the two clubs agreed that three players from the Chiefs Academy will play National 1 rugby for Albion next season.
Scrum half Jack Maunder, back five forward Ed Holmes and winger Harrison Cully will all be available to play for Albion after Chiefs agreed to season long loans.
Maunder, whose father Andy played scrum half for Exeter for a number of seasons, recently captained England under 18’s against Italy in the European Championships Bronze medal game.
Holmes, who can play in the second row and the back row, played for the Cornish All Blacks last season and he also played for Exeter Chiefs in the LV= Cup.
Cully who played his early rugby at Brixham RFC, recently signed a three year professional deal with the Chiefs.
Albion head coach Graham Dawe said, “The links we have are very important for both Plymouth Albion and Exeter Chiefs.
“The agreement we have with Exeter will give three of their promising youngsters the opportunity to play competitive rugby next season.
“All three players will be with us for the season which will provide us with more continuity as they will be attending the majority of our training sessions.”
Dawe is currently in discussions with a number of other players about joining Albion next season.
Plymouth Albion added two more members to their 2015-16 squad by agreeing new deals with local youngsters Cameron Setter and Dan Pullinger. 22 year old scrum half Setter, who was educated at Ivybridge Community College, made 16 appearances for Albion last season. Setter will therefore be starting his third season as an Albion player having previously been a match day mascot for the club when he was 8 years old. Setter, who has a degree from UWIC, has represented Devon at all age groups. 20 year old prop Pullinger attended Stoke Damerel Community College in Plymouth and has representative honours with England under 16’s Pullinger made he debut for Albion last season and went on 14 appearances in what was a disappointing campaign for the club.
Plymouth Albion have made their first two signings ahead of the 2015-2016 National 1 campaign.
25 year old Marc Koteczky, who played 16 matches for Albion last season, has signed a new contract and he will play alongside fellow Australian Ethan Ford.
23 year old Ford, like Koteczky, can play wing, centre or full back and he has representative honours with Australian Schools, Australia under 20’s and the New South Wales country side.
Ford who qualifies as EQP through his English born Grandmother is relishing the opportunity to test himself in England.
Ford who played with Koteczky at Sydney based club Randwick said, “I’m looking forward to joining up with the Plymouth Albion squad and experiencing rugby in England.
“I’ve heard a lot of good things about the club and the City. I know Marc well from Randwick so it will be great to play alongside him again. I’m excited about the challenge that awaits.”
Albion head coach Graham Dawe talking about his first two signings said, “I like Marc’s ability as a footballer and it’s a bonus that he can play across three positions.
“For Ethan coming over from Australia it will be good for him that he has someone he knows in the squad. It’s always good to have friendships within a team.”
Plymouth Albion RFC have confirmed that their first pre season game ahead of their 2015-2016 National 1 campaign will be away to Championship side Jersey.
The match which will be played at St Peter on Saturday 8 August has a provisional kick off time of 5pm.
The Albion squad will travel to Jersey on the Saturday and return to Plymouth the following day.
Plymouth Albion head coach Graham Dawe said, “Jersey are an improving Championship side and the game against them will be hard but will be very good preparation ahead of our National 1 season.
“The game at St Peter will give us a good indication of where we are ahead of the opening league game.”
Last season Albion and Jersey played each other four times with each club winning once at home and once away.
Plymouth Albion will shortly be announcing their other pre season fixtures.
Former Plymouth Albion player Chris Bell has been forced to retire from playing at the relatively young age of 32 due to a serious shoulder injury he picked up playing for Wasps earlier this season.
Bell, who attended Ivybridge Community College, played his first game of senior rugby when he represented Albion as a 17 year old in season 200-2001.
After leaving Albion Bell went on to play for Harlequins, Leeds Carnegie and Sale Sharks before moving to Wasps who he captained in season 2013-14.
Speaking about his retirement Bell said, “I’m immensely disappointed that I’ve had to retire due to injury, although I’m grateful to have had the experience of professional rugby.
“My biggest thank you goes to my family for their support and encouragement. At this stage I’m not sure what the future holds.”
Bell’s younger brother Tommy, who also attended Ivybridge Community College, currently plays for Leicester Tigers