Hartpury RFC will go gunning for an incredible 11th successive bonus point win at Old Albanians on Saturday – a feat that would set a new record for Level 3 and above for consecutive bonus point successes.
And it could end up being some week for the RFC boys as they prepare to head to Pennyhill Park tomorrow to train with the senior England squad ahead of their Albanians’ assignment in National League One.
Hartpury Director of Rugby, John Barnes, however, is adamant that his squad are keeping their feet firmly on the ground and will not under-estimate the threat awaiting them in Hertfordshire.
He said: “We’ve been burnt by Albanians before, when they beat us here at Hartpury to win promotion to National League Two ahead of us four years ago
“A lot has changed since then in terms of playing and coaching personnel for both teams but we know they will be well drilled as they have a great coach in James Shanahan, who has returned to the club.
“They have had some disappointing losses this season but they only lost narrowly at Blackheath last week, so it’s clear what they could be capable of.”
The last time Hartpury travelled to Albanians, in the 2014-15 season, they won 59-31, having beaten them 15-10 at home.
In contrast to Hartpury, Albanians have not had the best of starts to this season, with four wins and six losses so far to sit 10th, having been promoted back into National League One this season at the first time of asking.
Hartpury’s record so far is certainly making the rest of the league sit up and take notice of their potential Championship credentials – their 10 consecutive bonus point win seeing them already sitting eight points clear of second placed Moseley.
They faced arguably their stiffest test of the season last week though as they overcame Rosslyn Park 37-27 at Hartpury – a team that Albanians defeated in their league opener.
Barnes added: “Coming from 10-0 down against Rosslyn Park to build a healthy lead and win with a bonus point showed real character.
“It was disappointing to concede two late tries but we know that Rosslyn Park are a much better side than their current league position suggests and I’m confident we’ll see them moving up the league in the coming weeks.”
Back row Rhys Oakley (neck) will face an injury assessment ahead of the game and LV Cup commitments are again likely to restrict the availability of their on loan players.