Plymouth Albion v 1stXV, Sat Nov 11, Match Preview
Ampthill travel to Brickfields this weekend to face Plymouth Albion who were formed in 1876 by a group of apprentices from the Royal Naval Dockyard in Devonport and played in Devonport Park. In 1887 the club moved to Bladderly, where spectators paid three times as much (3d) to watch as players to play (1d or a touch less than 1/2p)!
During the 1894 season Plymouth Albion played at Home Park, now the home of Plymouth Argyle, and then moved to Rectory Fields, where they hosted the first touring All Blacks team in 1905.
The Great War intervened with both Albion and local rivals Plymouth RFC losing their grounds to the war effort and many of their players to the conflict leading to a merger 1919 to form Plymouth Albion RFC and a new home at Beacon Park.
The following decades saw Albion achieve much success before being placed in Courage 3 when the league system was introduced in the ’80s. However, by the end of the 1998-99 season, the Club’s on field fortune had declined, only a last day of the season away win preventing relegation from the National Leagues.
In 1999 Graham Dawe was appointed Chairman of Rugby and oversaw a period of unprecedented success with eventual promotion to National One (now the Championship) in 2001-02, a status retained for 13 seasons until relegation at the end of last year, 2014-15 with Graham Dawe returning as Director of Rugby in 2015. Dan Parkes was appointed head coach in time for last season but resigned and was replaced by the current player/coach Kieran Hallett.
This season Albion have a played 10 won 6 record to lie 4th in National 1 table.
Last week’s 5 try to 2 victory over Old Elthalmanians saw Ampthill climb to second in the table behind Coventry whose 100% record leaves them 10 points clear at the top.
This week represents the toughest challenge of Amps season so far, Albion’s proud Championship heritage, their superb infrastructure and their massive attendance contribute to making Brickfields a very difficult venue to visit. Their past 19 National 1 home games have seen them win 17, draw 1 and lose 1 (to all conquering Hartpury last season, and that by just 3 points), securing points at Plymouth Albion is very hard.
Director of Rugby Mark Lavery comments “As a massive game at one of the major venues in the sport with one of the best supported clubs in level two or three it’s a huge challenge.
Plymouth are a championship club in every way with the exception of the division in which they compete in and they have had a fantastic season so far with a couple of really tight results that they could have or maybe should have won.
They represent the toughest away trip in the of season but we are starting to show support me form again and it’s a challenge that will we embrace.
We look forward to renewing the friendship between the two clubs.”
There are a few changes to the squad this week:-
Forwards:- Toby Trinder returns at loose head, Paino Hehea at lock and Billy Johnson starts at blindside.
Replacements:- Loti Molitika returns to provide back row cover.
The teams below will be updated as soon as published.