Saints begin preparations for long-awaited comeback

Saints begin preparations for long-awaited comeback

St Austell start pre-season training on Thursday. Photo Paul Williams

By Gareth Davies

7th July 2021

St Austell start their preparations for the 2021-22 season when pre-season training begins for the Tregorrick Park outfit tomorrow (Thursday).

Kyle Marriott’s men have not taken to the field in a competitive match since they defeated Bideford 20-10 away from home on March 14,2020.

Owing to the first covid-19 lockdown, the 2019-20 season was quickly declared null and void by the Rugby Football Union (RFU). However, under a pointsper- game formula, St Austell were duly promoted from Western Counties West to South West One West, along with Wellington, who are coached by former England World Cup hooker Graham Dawe.

Hopes had been high 12 months ago, that the 2020-21 season may have been able to go ahead in an altered format, but the second national lockdown in November saw the RFU decide that the league structure would not take place.

Cornish clubs then got their collective heads together and plans were put in place for a cluster league structure, but this particular competition never started either as a third lockdown, announced on January 5, saw Saints unable to even train until late March.

With lockdown restrictions finally starting to ease in the spring Saints were able to play friendly matches under adapted rules against Redruth and Penryn in May before the usual mid-summer break started in June.

Saints will train every Tuesday and Thursday with friendly matches set to be announced by the club in the coming weeks.

They will begin their first season back at level six since they suffered relegation to Western Counties in 2015 with an away match against Devonport Services on Saturday, September 5. It is understood that Saints have been able to retain the bulk of their squad that finished 2019-20 with Sam Parsons, who has agreed to join Redruth, the most notable departure.

As exclusively revealed by the Voice in May, Saints are keen to bring former Tregorrick Park favourite Matt Shepherd back to his spiritual home after he opted to leave National One side Plymouth Albion. Meanwhile, the Cornwall Rugby Football Union (CRFU) held their Annual General meeting in a covid compliant format at the Rec, home of Camborne Rugby Club on June 30.

President John Sumnall welcomed the attendees and congratulated them and their clubs for their hard work under difficult circumstances this past season. He felt that the rugby community in Cornwall had come together during a troubled season and shown true Cornish spirit in adversity.

The President also made a plea to the clubs to help the CRFU deliver its role as guardians of the game here in the Duchy as ever willing volunteers are sought to help the various committee’s already in operation.

CRFU chairman, Dave Saunter informed the meeting that Sumnall’s tenure as President had been extend by one year as a result of the covid affected season. He also informed the meeting that former Scotland and British Lions Test star Andy Reed had been appointed President elect, assuming the role in season 23/24.

Honorary secretary Terry Williams and Alan Milliner, CRFU clubs’ representative to the Rugby Football Union, were both re-elected unopposed to serve a further three year term. The President then went on to award Honorary Vice Presidency to Paul Hurrell (Hayle), Paul Cottle (Bude) and Alan Truscott (Camborne). Sumnall also paid tribute to past President Dave Martin, who has completed 40 year’s service with the CRFU covering many different roles.