Cambridge Rugby are pleased to confirm the remainder of the forwards pack for their upcoming Championship season, with welcome returns and new additions to the back row.
Head Coach Richie Williams believes “Always an important area in any team is the balance of the back row. We have been extremely mindful of the demands of the new league and are conscious of the amount of high-intensity efforts the back row put in on a weekly basis.”
“We have therefore named eight players in our Championship squad for the season ahead.”
Joining the blood and sand for the first time this season are Benji Hoppe and Jared Cardew.
Benji Hoppe joins from BUCS Super Rugby team, Cardiff University where he recently gained a degree in accountancy. Of his latest appointment, Williams said;
“Benji is a versatile player who can play across the back row and has gained some valuable experiences of late with the Wales 7’s team. Like his brother (Centre, Tom Hoppe) he has come through the successful Dragons Academy and has represented Wales at age grade level.
“He has a superb energy and I look forward to seeing how he adapts to playing Championship Rugby.”
Also new to Grantchester Road is Jared Cardew who joins from fellow Championship side Doncaster Knights;
“Jared joins us from fellow Championship team Doncaster Knights where he featured in a number of games last season. Prior to that, he was one of the standout players at Richmond when they too played in the Championship.’ Said Williams.
“His dynamism and explosive power really caught my eye, as did the volume of work he got through every game. I believe he is an excellent fit for how we want to play this season and adds another dimension to an already strong area.”
Returning to the fold are 2022-23 Captain George Bretag-Norris and fan favourites Ben Adams and Anthony Maka. They are also joined by fellow 2022-23 forwards Matt Dawson, Archie Strath and Noah Sloot.
“Ben Adams is fast approaching his 100th game for the club and will bring valuable Championship experience from his time at Bedford and Coventry.
“Alongside George, he has led the team really well over the past two seasons and remains the heartbeat of the team. I have a huge amount of respect for how he goes about his business and has a no-nonsense approach to the game. Like many of the squad, I know he is relishing the opportunity of playing Championship rugby again.”
Anthony Maka returns for his third season in red and yellow having recently surpassed 50 caps with his side.
“Maka has quickly established himself as a fans favourite at Cambridge. Since signing from Rotherham a few seasons ago, his level of durability and commitment have been exemplary.
“He has already amassed over 50 appearances for the club. Him and his young family have fully committed themselves to the Cambridge community and he is now playing some of his best rugby. He was instrumental in our last two victories last season against Plymouth and Moseley, scoring two important tries in both games.”
Matt Dawson returns for his 5th season after completing his military tour last season;
“He is another player that I believe should be playing this level and he deserves this opportunity. He has become an excellent role model for the younger players at the club and is able to draw upon some of his military experiences to support our leadership group.”
Archie Strath returns after completing a successful loan period at National 2 Bury St Edmunds last year.
“He will want to break into the match day squad this season and continue his growth at the club. He has an excellent attitude and extremely high work rate which will give him opportunities during the season.”
Of his return, Strath noted the opportunities ahead of him;
“I am really happy to be staying at Cambridge for another season and testing myself against other Championship teams. It’s a great group of lads and can’t wait to get stuck in.”
The final forward to be named in Richie Williams’ forwards pack is Noah Sloot who is busy preparing for his sixth season with Cambridge;
“Noah Sloot is another player that has come through the mini and youth programme at the club. He had a number of games at the beginning of last season before suffering a nasty hamstring injury which curtailed his progress. Noah has a real physical edge and continues to work on other aspects of his game.”
Keen to get back underway, Noah is excited for the season ahead;
“I’m really looking forward to being back at training in the great environment we created at the club over the past few years. We now get to test ourselves at the highest level we’ve played at. It’ll be an awesome challenge. We’ll do the job and solidify our place in the Champ.”
Today’s announcements are the latest in an upcoming string of squad reveals before the season gets underway in early October. Keep your eyes peeled across the coming days as the remainder of the squad is unveiled.