Birchall-Feeney joins Hoppers

Date: 22 June 2015

Preston Grasshoppers RFC has strengthened the playing squad for the 2015/16 season with the signing of 23 year old Ryan Birchall-Feeney from Carlisle RFC.

The Second Row, who can also play across the back row, played all of his Junior Rugby at Rochdale. This included a Lancashire Under 18 Cup victory which saw Ryan and his teammates defeat Hoppers in the Semi-Final.

A move up to Cumbria to study at University saw Ryan join Penrith where he played mainly in the 2nd XV but did feature a handful of times for the 1st’s. Whilst at Penrith he was selected for Cumbria Under 20’s and then the North of England U20’s in his second season.

With limited opportunities at Penrith, Ryan opted to join Carlisle, making an immediate impact by winning the Player of the Year in his first season. His form was recognised by the senior Cumbria selectors and he was part of the squad that were twice losing finalists at Twickenham. He is pictured at the top of the page in action with the ball in this years plate final against Leicestershire. Having made over 60 appearances for Carlisle, Ryan has decided the time is right to move back south and he has opted to join Hoppers.

Ryan warming up ahead of the 2015 County Shield Final for Cumbria

Ryan warming up ahead of the 2015 County Shield Final for Cumbria

On his decision to leave Carlisle and join Preston Ryan said “Yeah of course I’m sad to be leaving Carlisle, I’ve had some amazing coaches the last few years, and the lads have been great, both on and off the field but I thought it was time to move on and test myself further. I’ll always cherish Carlisle as its where I was given an opportunity to play 1st XV rugby regularly.”

He added “I know Preston Grasshoppers are a strong club throughout, having played against them at junior levels, and playing against the 2nd XV when I played at Penrith. They invest more than most in their junior teams, which pays dividends with the quality of players coming out through colts and into senior rugby. The main attraction for me to join Hoppers was the chance to make the step up into the National Leagues. I enjoyed some limited experience with Penrith in National 3, and I’ve had a desire to play at a higher standard since.”

Ryan was also impressed with the direction that the club is headed in saying “When I sat down with Alan Holmes and Mike Bailey, their vision was exactly what I wanted to hear, and I’d like to thank them for this opportunity. My hope for this season, on a personal level, is to break into the first XV and stay there. From a team perspective I want us to do well, and I’d be aiming to finish in the top 4, and having seen some of the additional signings the club have made I think we have every chance of success!”

Director of Rugby Alan Holmes, who hails from Cumbria so knows the local scene well, was pleased to secure Ryan’s signing for the upcoming season. “I have watched Ryan progress over the last few years after working with him in the Lancashire U18s set up. He is a gritty player with a high work rate and has established himself as a well respected player in the North West One League. We are very pleased that Ryan will be joining us and look forward to seeing him develop in a new environment.”

Welcome to Hoppers Ryan, we look forward to seeing you at Lightfoot Green.

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