Pre-Season Games for Senior Squad

Date: 07 August 2015

Pre-season Fixtures – 2015/16 Preview

Preston Grasshoppers vs. Newport (Salop) – Saturday 15th August, 2.00pm

Waterloo vs. Preston Grasshoppers 1st XV – Thursday 27th August, 7.30pm

Kendal vs. Preston Grasshoppers 2nd XV – Thursday 27th August, 7.30pm

Hoppers preparations for the new season begin with a club visiting Preston for the very first time in the shape of Newport RFC who are the highest ranked side in Shropshire and were promoted from Midlands 1 West Division at the end of last season, in doing so losing just one game. They will start the new season just one level below Hoppers in Midlands 1, a league they have frequented in the past.

Newport will be no strangers to Hoppers 1st XV Player of the Year Chris Taylor, who played for the Midlands side before joining Hoppers.

Hoppers second and final practice game before the season begins is away at Blundellsands, the home of long-standing opponents Waterloo who now add the name Firwood to their title. On the same evening the 2nd XV travel to Kendal in what should be an excellent test ahead of the new season.

Hoppers and Waterloo have crossed swords on numerous occasions over the years with fixtures between the two clubs going back to the first meeting across the river from Miller and Avenham Parks on the 30th of January 1904 where the visitors completely over ran the home side.

The two sides haven’t met since the Crosby side’s relegation in 2010 when Hoppers won all three meetings that season which included a Lancashire Cup tie.

Waterloo finished just short of the promotion places last season in what was probably their best season since relegation from National 2 North.

Hopefully the nervous end to last season is out of everybody’s system by now and everyone looking forward to a more successful term during 2015 and 2016.

It is a well know fact around the club that a number of players have left us since the end of last season, but as we always say at Preston Grasshoppers, the door is always open if they wish to return.

On a positive note, Olly Viney has taken that invitation to walk back through the welcoming door as has Sean Taylor, both of these players will no doubt make a big impact during the forthcoming season both on and off the field. Sean and Olly scored a combined total of one hundred and forty tries and accrued nine hundred and eighty two points during their previous seasons with Hoppers. Olly holds the Clubs League try scoring record and Sean took the season aggregate points title during his last season with Hoppers from long term leader Steve Kerry.

Other newcomers include fly-half Tom Forster who has progressed through the Fylde ranks from Juniors to 2nd XV and is on loan for the season. Back five forward Ryan Birchall-Feeney has joined us from Carlisle where he featured for Cumbria in a couple of Twickenham County Cup Finals. Our very own 6′ 5” John Mackenzie will no doubt feature at the back of the scrum this season after stepping up from Hoppers Colts and Second XV rugby before captaining England Counties Under 18’s at the end of last season.

Ryan Birchall-Feeney

Ryan Birchall-Feeney

Off the field there’s been a major introduction of personnel within the Rugby Committee which has now evolved into the Rugby Management Group and will bring a fresh view regarding the running of Senior Rugby within the club working on their ‘Rugby Vision’.

A Club survey has been distributed amongst the Club’s Membership, giving them a chance to air their views on the way forward of Preston Grasshoppers.

The new season for the First Team brings with it both a set of new challenges and faces. Gone are Hull Ionians and Ampthill up into National 1 whilst Hull, Stockport and Birmingham Solihull have moved in the other direction.

A look at the teams joining us for the new season sees Macclesfield return after just one season together with Tynedale slipping down, whilst Sale FC make the move upwards. Along with Sale, newcomers to Level 4 rugby are South Leicester who reside just a few miles away from Leicester Lions. A club’s name from Hoppers history features within next season’s fixture list and those who travelled to Sandal for the title clinching game back in 1999 will have pleasant memories of the game if not that much recall of the journey home!

The 1869 Club will be looking to carry on from last season when they made trips to more away fixtures than in recent seasons and will be looking to take the usual happy band of followers (hopefully plus a few welcome newcomers) to Chester, Macclesfield, Huddersfield, Sale, Caldy, Otley, Sedgley Park together with a memory jerking trip to Sandal and a return to a favourite venue in the North East in the village of Corbridge where Tynedale RFC reside. Another new venue will be Harrogate’s new ground at Rudding Park.

Good Luck for the new season to everyone connected with Hoppers and let’s hope it’s a successful one!

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