Cambridge Rugby Head Coach Richie Williams has revealed yet more of his hand ahead of the new season with Leicester Tigers prospect Jed Gelderbloom signing on the dotted line for 2023-24.
“Another component of our success last season was a direct result of the game understanding and awareness of our half backs. They were all instrumental in helping to shape our game plan and have been really diligent in pre-season, ensuring that we continue to refine and evolve our game model.”
Half-Back Jed Gelderbloom lines up alongside retained scrum halves, Kieran Duffin and Toby Dabell for the Championship season, and brings a wealth of experience having played international age group rugby.
“Joining us this season will be former Leicester Tigers Academy and Scotland U20 player, Jed Gelderbloom. At just 20 years old Jed joins us from a season of playing club rugby over in Christchurch, New Zealand.”
“Assistant Coach Anthony Allen has worked with Jed before and he comes with an excellent pedigree. He is a young player who has aspirations of playing professional rugby. I am confident that we now have the best environment to develop Jed and benefit from his growth.”
Returning for season five and with just shy of 100 caps under his belt, Kieran Duffin brings more Championship experience into the fold;
“I signed Kieran in my first year at the club and he has now become a mainstay in our team. His upward trajectory has been due to his excellent attitude and appetite to improve his game. I believe he brings the calmness and control that we will need to be competitive this season and very much look forward to working alongside him again. He will also be hoping to reach 100 appearances for the club this season.”
Duffin is keen to get back on the pitch with his teammates in a few weeks time;
“We worked relentlessly hard last year to achieve our goal of getting promoted, and now it’s up to us to show everyone what we can do and that we deserve to be here.”
In addition to Gelderbloom and Duffin, 26-year-old scrum half Toby Dabell will also return to the blood and sand.
“Toby Dabell proved to be an excellent signing from Richmond last season. He quickly established himself amongst the group and brought huge amounts of energy throughout the season. I know he is excited about playing in the Championship again and will keep opposition defences guessing with the variety he brings.”
Completing the half-backs are Steffan James and Lawrence Rayner, the latter returning from injury sustained at the end of the 2022 season.
James joined Cambridge last season after an impressive campaign with Reading Rams in 2021-22. Having cemented his place in the squad during Cambridge’s title winning campaign in 2022-23, he is back for more as the side steps up to tier two.
“Stef proved to be a superb signing from Rams last season and brought a real sharpness to our attack. His game management and decision making allowed us to control a lot of games and ultimately win some close encounters. His goal kicking was also a key strength and one that we will need to lean upon this season.” said Williams.
“Experienced Championship operator Lawrence Rayner has returned to full fitness after a year on the side-lines. He has now recovered from his ACL injury and is keen to return to action.”
“Despite not playing, he was a huge part of our off-field excellence last season as he continued his transition into coaching. He has a real attention to detail and build some really positive relationships with the players last season. I am really pleased that he will be returning to action and help to propel the team forwards.”
A stalwart of Championship Rugby, Rayner has previously featured for both Nottingham and Ampthill and returns to the pitch for his sixth season with a wealth of Championship knowledge;
“After a season out due to an ACL reconstruction, I can’t wait to get back playing and running out with the lads. It’s going to be an amazing year for the team and club in general, both playing in the championship and 100yrs.”
Today’s news is the latest in Cambridge Rugby’s squad announcements before the season gets underway in early September. Keep your eyes peeled over the coming days as the remainder of the squad is unveiled.