No repeat of last season for Thornbury Rugby Club
With four games still to go, Thornbury Rugby Club are third in the league, a position achieved despite an endless series of injuries.
With skipper Liam Pemberton leading for the third successive season and the coaching team under Rob Higgitt, Thornbury hoped they would go one better than the last season when they finished second and narrowly lost a play-off final at Salisbury.
But after three early wins, defeat at Drybrook rang warning bells. The forwards were going well but the backs lacked the incisive and clinical style of the previous campaign.
Five wins followed, including a particularly satisfying win at Newent and a comfortable home win over Bridgwater but defeat at Okehampton was followed by a fine win over Teignmouth. Defeat was next to eventual champions Weston in a game in which Thornbury’s injury crisis saw six loose forwards in the pack.
A hard-fought win over Chard ended the pre-Christmas fixtures and saw influential player-coach Tom Luke added to the lengthy injury list, however Thornbury were second in the table without really playing well.
Thorns were unlucky to lose at Clevedon in January and since then Thornbury haven’t got going, although they secured the double over Newent in a thrilling game on a never-to-be-forgotten day when former players Mako and Billy Vunipola of Saracens and England visited the club.
The remainder of this season will be played with one eye on next season. With nothing on the remaining games the coaches may take the opportunity to blood some of the younger players who have excelled in the Development XV.
The team, made up of 16, 17 and 18 year-olds have had a fine season. Based on the highly-successful Under 16’s of the previous season, the team were unbeaten until late February. They reached the last 32 of the National Colts Cup and given that the majority of the team will be together next season the 2017/18 campaign could be even more successful. Backs Harry Tarling and Jake Wood have both played first team rugby this season.
The Seconds and Thirds have had frustrating seasons with many games called off at short notice but there remains an enthusiastic core of players. Next season it is planned to launch a Womens Team.