Rebuilding bears fruit for Thornbury rugby club
Dave Fox reviews the first half of a season where youth has been the focus.
Under new coach Tom Luke Thornbury have begun a rebuilding period and have introduced many of the clubs’ highly-successful Colts team into senior rugby. By mid-December twelve seventeen and eighteen-year olds had played first team rugby, with several others also having played for the second or third teams. Jake Wood, who turned eighteen in September, heads the list of scorers for the First XV.
Lack of experience does come at a cost and Thornbury have lost several games by a small margin, but this is all part of the learning process. Strength in depth has been a problem in recent seasons and the development process is starting to build a high quality squad.
The entertainment value of the rugby played has been high. Thornbury have secured their first win at Bridgwater & Albion and have reserved their best performances for matches with the top sides. They should have won at league leaders Exeter University and second-placed Drybrook and they out-scored Launceston on tries but had an off-day with goal kicking. They have earned losing bonus points from all except one defeat and have scored a hat-full of tries with Sam Poustie leading the way with ten tries, including a score in each of the last seven matches.
Thorns sit in sixth place, and the second half of the season starts with a home tie against Bridgwater. That match is followed by an away game at Matson and a home tie with Clevedon, both of whom will be desperate for points in their attempt to escape the bottom three.
Thornbury played Clifton in the quarter-final of the Bristol Combination Cup and although the visitors from the National Leagues won 33-24 the Thornbury youngsters put up a fine performance.
The second and third teams have played well on occasions but have lacked consistency of selection and have been plagued by a rash of fixture cancellations.
The Development Squad, which is the Under 17s and Under 18s combined, are unbeaten although the first match in the defence of their County Cup title with Coney Hill was abandoned. Louis Ogilvie and James Jackson have both played for Gloucestershire U-18s.
The season has also seen the formation of an adult Women’s rugby side. The Thornbees were founded by Gemma Tyrrell and with few player having experienced the game before, they have now won three of their seven games and under a coaching team headed by Ian Maunder have improved game on game. They have several fixtures lined up for the second half of the season and plan to enter the RFU Leagues next season. The junior section are energetically looking at forming girls teams.
This Christmas the annual charity game is on December 27th when a Thornbury XV play the PROPS Barbarians to raise funds for children and young adults with learning difficulties. This is the eighth successive season this fixture has been played and it has been a highly enjoyable event which has raised several thousand pounds for the charity. Kick-off is 12:00 midday.