Hartpury will play three pre-season fixtures as they build-up for their third season playing in National League 1.
The opening game will be on Saturday, 13th August, when Preston Grasshoppers will make their first ever visit to the College. The Lancashire club currently play in National League 2 North, one tier below Hartpury, in which they finished last season in mid-table. The ‘Hoppers’ have a long and proud history, having been involved in the development of a number of well-known names including Will Greenwood, Steve Borthwick, Wade Dooley, Alex and Pat Sanderson and Ian Balshaw.
The following week, we will host regular pre-season opponents Clifton RFC, also from League 2 (South) in a game scheduled for an evening kick-off on Friday 19th August.
Finally, and with no disrespect to the other two teams, the intensity will go up a notch or two as we visit Championship side Ealing Trailfinders on Saturday, 27th August. Again, Ealing have become somewhat regular, providing opposition in two of the previous three pre-seasons – the odd year out being in 2014 when we were about to compete in the same division. Last year the game was played on a hot afternoon at the College (pictured) and, despite defeat, the boys gave a good account of themselves in the build up to what became a successful league season.
With opening league fixtures against Blackheath and Plymouth Albion at home, followed by a difficult trip to Esher, pre-season will be vital in ensuring that the team get off to the best possible start and, in any event, what better way to spend an August afternoon/evening than watching some quality rugby with something cool in hand…
See you there!