Plymouth Albion travel east for their National League One fixture against Cambridge RUFC today (Saturday, January 27, KO 2pm).
Luke Chapman, 22, from Looe, is named in the Albion starting line-up for the second week running, although he did not actually take to the field last Saturday after the game against Loughborough Students was called off at the very last minute.
Prop-forward Chapman described the disappointment felt by the players when the fixture did not go ahead: “It was very frustrating because we were warmed up and ready to go, so have it called off so late was a bit upsetting.
“But it has happened now and we are ready to put that aside and start again.”
As a result, Albion have played only one game in the last five weeks, but the former Looe Community College student is not worried about the lack of competitive rugby: “It could have a big effect but I don’t think it will. Game fitness comes into it but we can back ourselves fitness-wise.”
Despite the game drought, the former Cornish Pirate says the squad is training better than ever: “Training has been first class. To be honest we have trained more effectively than all year during the last two or three weeks. It has been spot on.”
Cambridge have had their own pitch problems, with their two most recent games at Volac Park called off due to a seriously waterlogged pitch, but any thoughts of a further postponement are far from Chapman’s mind.
“It doesn’t look as if it is going to rain this weekend which is a good thing. We will just prepare for the game as best we can and whatever happens, happens.”
The team face a long journey, setting off from Plymouth in the early hours, but the Devon side will not use the journey as any kind of excuse: “We have learnt from our mistakes when we blamed the fact that we didn’t stay overnight, we didn’t do this or we didn’t do that. Now we know we just need to put it all into action. It is what it is. We will go up there in the morning and give it our all.”
Mid-table Cambridge held Albion to a tight 17-10 scoreline when the sides met at Brickfields in October and the young Cornishman is well aware they may cause some problems: “I haven’t played against Cambridge since I was at Launceston but I know they have got a big pack and a big scrum. They are physical and they run the ball round.
“We must not underestimate them. We can’t think we are going to beat them straight away but will prepare in the same way we do every week, do our best and hopefully come out with the five points.”
With Jack Owlett and Marcus Street recalled by Exeter for their Anglo-Welsh fixtures, Albion have a somewhat sparse front row to call on, with regular props Chapman and Dan Pullinger joined by Joel Armitage, on-loan from Brixham, who is on the bench.
Chapman says: “Dan and I discussed at the start of the season how this could be the situation, but we have known each other for 12 or 13 years so we should be all right.
“Dan is class and is a top boy scrummaging. We have been best mates for ages so we work well together.”
In fact it was Chapman who christened Pullinger the so-called ‘scrum doctor’ when he ran the club’s match-day twitter feed earlier this season.
“He is a monster at scrummaging and you never go backwards! He is just a class player.”
Plymouth Albion team to face Cambridge RUFC at Volac Park on Saturday, January 27 (KO 2pm).
15 Matt Shepherd, 14 Matt Crosscombe, 13 Seta Raumakita, 12 Dean Squire, 11 Harrison Cully, 10 Dan Mugford, 9 Joe Snow, 1 Luke Chapman, 2 Rupert Freestone, 3 Dan Pullinger, 4 Ed Holmes, 5 John Kelly, 6 George Mills, 7 Sam Daly, 8 Eoghan Grace (Captain).
16 Joel Armitage, 17 Jamie Salter, 18 Herbie Stupple, 19 Cameron Setter, 20 Jordan Gott