Cambridge Rugby Head Coach Richie Williams has named his side to face Ampthill in their inaugural outing in the Championship this weekend.
Fresh off the back of a week’s break, following five rounds of the Premiership Cup which saw Cambridge face the likes of Northampton Saints and Bristol Bears, Williams is looking forward to kicking off the new season;
“After a really challenging block of Premiership Cup fixtures, we look ahead with anticipation for the start of our inaugural season in the Championship. Off the back of the sad demise of Jersey Reds, we now find ourselves amongst the top 21 teams in the country. Rest assured, this group of players and staff are desperate to get started and continue to make history in what is the clubs centenary season.”
Whilst some may claim it a tough draw in the Premiership Cup for the recently promoted Cambridge, Williams notes the progression his side showed during September;
“Despite losing all five of our games in the Premiership Cup Competition, I believe that we have learned a lot about some of the requirements needed to be competitive this season. In particular, the importance of being clinical when you get opportunities.”
“Several injuries sustained in the Premiership Cup also gave us the opportunity to develop some more depth in key positions, in particular our back row. Both Archie Strath and Noah Sloot have gained valuable game time against fully professional teams.”
Despite the occasion marking the first time Cambridge will compete in the Championship, their opponents are of a familiar nature, with Ampthill having been a regular feature in the national leagues over the years.
“This weekend we travel to Bedfordshire to play our old friends, Ampthill. Ampthill gained promotion to the Championship in 2019 after winning National 1 and have become a well-established team. They have recruited 21 new players ahead of this season and have also agreed a new partnership with Premiership giants, Saracens. It will be a difficult game first up, but we can take confidence from the fact that we have picked up two wins in our last two appearances at Dillingham Park. Both of those games were played in wet and windy conditions, and it is looking similar for this weekend.”
Looking at the 23-man squad selected to face ‘The Mob’, Williams is pleased to have a number of his key players in the fold;
“Fortunately for us, we only have two players that are unavailable for this game. We also now have the luxury of fielding a 23-man squad as opposed to the 20 that we have been used to previously when in National 1.
“That now gives us a bit more flexibility with our selection and this weekend will be the first time this season where I believe that our replacement players will be able to add huge value from the bench. The Premiership Cup taught us the importance of having a strong match day 23, with the added intensity and physicality.
“There are a couple of key figureheads that also return to our match day squad this weekend. We welcome back George Bretag-Norris and Ben Adams to the forward backs and Geordie Irvine returns to us on loan from Northampton Saints. On the bench, there are returns for hooker Morgan Veness and tighthead prop Matty Collins with Joe Green featuring in the backs. Fly half Jamie Benson, who is on a season long loan from Harlequins, will also make his first appearance of the season.”
The match will kick off at 2pm on Saturday 21 October at Ampthill’s Dillingham Park. Cambridge then return home on Saturday 28 October, welcoming Doncaster Knights to Ellgia Fields. Tickets to the clash are on sale now so secure yours today to avoid paying more on the door. Visit the Cambridge Rugby website.
15. Eli Caven
14. Kwaku Asiedu
13. Sam Hanks
12. Matty Williams
11. Matt Hema
10. Steff James
9. Kieran Duffin
1. Jake Elwood
2. Ben Brownlie
3. Billy Walker
4. Kieran Frost
5. George Bretag-Norris
6. Geordie Irvine
7. Ben Adams
8. Jared Cardew
16. Morgan Veness
17. Seb Brownhill
18. Matt Collins
19. Matt Dawson
20. Benji Hoppe
21. Toby Dabell
22. Jamie Benson
23. Joe Green