Everything changed this year. The RFU decided that the 15 group season should be completed by the middle of January squeezing everything in to the worst time of the year for weather. They also decided that no district rugby should be played and as a result of this it was impossible to see the boys playing at a competitive level beyond club and school. DPP district groups were in place and these were supposed to form the county squads. Bob Davies, Brendon Bailey and I spent some time watching the clubs and schools play and it became very obvious that there was a lot of talent that existed outside of the DPP squads. A trial was held for the boys not in the DPP and a group was chosen to play alongside the district squads at the Sale development day at Carrington in October.
After this day at Carrington a county squad of 48 was chosen to represent Cheshire at A and B level but very little time was allocated for training. Three sessions were organised at St Ambrose College before our first game against Yorkshire at A and B level on the 18th December. As only 3 dates were allowed for the county programme we had to play our games on 3G pitches. We played our home match against Yorkshire at Burnage RFC, a Lancashire club and our away game against Lancashire on January 3rd also at Burnage RFC. Our final match was played at Longton RFC against Staffordshire on January 15th.
Thanks go to Hugo Corbett, our lead coach, Ben Coulbeck, Noel Speed, Ryan Acton and Simon Ford for giving up their time and for developing the skills of the boys in the county squad. Our best wished go to Noel Speed in his new job as junior academy manager at Sale RFC.
Cheshire A and B v Yorkshire A and B at Burnage RFC on Sunday 18th December
- Cheshire B 19 points Yorkshire B 20 points
- Cheshire A 12 points Yorkshire A 17 points
Both games resulted in immense frustration for Cheshire. Cheshire B led 19 -0 at half-time only to allow Yorkshire B to reply with 20 points, scoring their winning try in injury time. The A game followed a similar pattern with Cheshire A leading into the second half with a 12 point advantage. Yorkshire replied with three tries in the second half and although Cheshire had many opportunities they failed to score any more tries. Both games were entertaining and were of a very high standard.
Cheshire A and B v Lancashire A and B at Burnage RFC on Tuesday 3rd January
- Cheshire B 17 points Lancashire B 24 points
- Cheshire A 5 points Lancashire A 29 points
The B game was highly competitive with both sides sharing the lead. Both sides had many opportunities to score tries but unfortunately it was Lancashire B who scored the winning try in the last play of the game. Cheshire and Lancashire A fought out a very competitive first half but Lancashire took the lead just before half-time to take a 10 -5 lead. Cheshire had quite a few chances to score tries at the beginning of the second half but like the Yorkshire match we failed to take our opportunities. Lancashire showed us how to take advantage of opportunities by scoring three late tries. As with the Yorkshire games these matches were of a very high standard and whilst Yorkshire was very lucky to beat us Lancashire fully deserved their win in the A game. This was their first win in an A match for seven years.
Cheshire V Staffordshire at Longton RFC on Sunday 15th January
- Cheshire 56 points
- Staffordshire 0
In appalling conditions Cheshire found their stride against Staffordshire and they scored some excellent team tries to finish off the season on an optimistic note.
Team manager 15 group