Preston Grasshoppers vs. Loughborough Students – KO 2.30pm
Preston Grasshoppers next game sees Loughborough Students RUFC return to Lightfoot Green after a seven year absence. Their last visit being the final game of the 2011/12 season when they were already in the promotion position of National 2 North Champions. A game in which Hoppers recorded a comprehensive victory.
After narrowly avoiding relegation for a number of seasons, the ‘Students’ finally succumbed last April and find themselves back in a division they occupied for four seasons.
Not surprisingly, Hoppers run of defeats continued last Saturday at promotion chasing and unbeaten Caldy but with news of returning first team regulars it is hoped they can start to pull themselves away from the perilous position they find themselves presently occupying. If one crumb of comfort can be taken from this game, it’s the fact no other side had previously scored three tries against Caldy at Paton Field this season.
Unlike Caldy who were relegated alongside our visitors, Loughborough Students haven’t exactly looked like a team set for a quick return to National 1 and currently sit just above the mid table position with six wins to their name, twice Hoppers tally to date.
Loughborough Students have the advantage of a large squad of players, tempered by the fact that they move on once their term at University’s over. Along with playing in National 2 they also compete in BUCS Super Rugby, the top tier of University rugby plus three other University leagues. Their Rugby Programme benefits from a formal partnership with the RFU and strong working relationships with England 7s, Leicester Tigers, Saracens and Wasps which enhances the ability to provide a professional rugby environment where players can reach their potential.
Fixtures between the two rugby clubs go back as far as 1983 when the home team won at Lightfoot Green. The 1987/88 fixture in Preston saw the Students XV include Alan Buzza at full-back, together with future Scotland forwards Andy McDonald and captain on the day, Adam Buchanan-Smith. Interestingly, when the fixture was played at Hoppers during February 1990 Paul Grayson and future Irish International Niall Malone faced one another in their respective team’s stand-off position. The University team also included Welshman Derwyn Jones and another Scot, Eric Peters in the pack.
Along with Preston Grasshoppers and our neighbours Fylde, visitors Loughborough Students are also celebrating a notable milestone season, this being their Centenary. Along with celebrating this, one of their Alumni, Gerald Davies has been elected President of the Welsh Rugby Union.
The playing record between the two clubs to date stands at six victories to Hoppers and eight to the Students, with the game in 1985/6 due to have been played in Preston being cancelled. Hoppers dramatic victory over the Students in the mud bath at Lightfoot Green, will stay long in the memory of anyone who witnessed it back in 2011.
Thankfully, no more mud with the AGP!
Photograph courtesy of Mick Craig
1. Noah MILLER
2. Chris TAYLOR
3. John BLANCHARD
4. Ally MURRAY
5. Adam HOWARD
6. Sam WALLBANK
7. Ryan CARLSON
8. Matt LAMPREY
9. James GOUGH (C)
10. Ben DORRINGTON
11. Jacob BROWNE
12. Will DAVIDSON
13. Sam STOTT
14. Jordan DORRINGTON
15. Nick GREGSON
16. O. MABAYA, 17. PJ. MILLEA, 18. T. HARRISON, 19. J. SQUIRRELL, 20. A. HURST