It’s been a minute, since we last talked about Rugby Union and since we last caught up with all-things Nottingham and the goings off at Lady Bay. Last season would be admission from within that things perhaps didn’t go quite to plan. A tough campaign following the covid blighted season before, the Archers not always firing on all cylinders, in fact the Green & Whites of Nottingham Rugby more often than not failing to hit target, with a record of five wins and fifteen defeats, Craig Hammond’s side finished the Championship table, English rugby’s second tier, second bottom, only worsened by London Scottish who Nottingham beat twice home and away, both teams avoiding relegation with only one promotion slot from the league below, ensuring Caldy (a team based in the North West), becomes the twelfth side in the division for next season.
In fact even Ealing Trailfinders, who won the league ahead of Doncaster Knights by three points, failed to secure promotion, they’ll play each other in the first match of the new campaign, ironically Nottingham will also take on their closest rival from last year, as they travel to London Scottish in the season’s opener on September 10th.
Post-season, Nottingham lost the likes of Josh McNulty, Matt Marsh, Elliot Creed, Elliot Bale, Jose Andrade, Jake Farnworth, Theo Manihera, Storm Hanekom, Jack Ramshaw and Liam Bishop, but the club kept hold of Toby Williams, Aniseko Sio, Ben Betts, Callum Allen, George Cox, Scott Hall, Jacob Wright, Lewis Barrett, Carl Kirwan, Josh Poullet, Michael Stronge, Sam Hollingsworth, Morgan Bunting, Charlie Thacker, Harry Graham, David Williams, James Peachey, Jack Stapley and Nathan Tweedy.
New signings have been a plenty, Hooker’s Jack Dickinson joining from fellow Championship side Ampthill whilst Harry Clayton moved in from Newcastle University having previously played for Coventry.
Young prop Xavier Valentine joins from Leeds Tykes whilst Ross Bundy and Iosefa Maloney-Fiola will bulk up the second row. Former Scotland U20 star Bundy joining from Rennes in France whilst Maloney-Fiola is a New Zealand All-Black U20 international.
Another New Zealander, Centre Javiah Pohe, returns back to the Bay having spent time on loan at Nottingham from Leicester in the past, most recently, Pohe had played Pro D2 rugby in France before a spell last season at London Scottish.
Scrum Half Liam Slatem comes with international experience having played for Hong Kong, whilst fellow HK Scottish team-mate Michael Green joins as a centre, Jack Neville a utility back who can play across the line, is another player joining from Hong Kong and has seven international caps.
Another player, Josh Goodwin, has successfully came through the clubs University programme working in conjunction with NTU. Goodwin stating “I’ve just finished my three years at Trent, being up in Nottingham for a few years I’ve had a bit of exposure around the training squad since being a fresher and finally got a chance to be in the first team squad and in the mix”.
Goodwin stated “It’s a good process the Trent & Notts relationship, so being able to go through that, and to be another player to come through, is really exciting”.
Finally two more players have more recently arrived at the Bay, Marcus Ramage from Cardiff University, and Jordan Olowufela from Leicester Tigers, both can play as outside backs and will offer Nottingham strength and depth as they look to improve on last years fortunes.
Coach Craig Hammond stating on the new players he’s signed “It’s only going to push the standards up, we weren’t happy with how we finished last year, with the new guys adding to those who have committed from last year, we really want them to buy into what we are as a club”.
Nottingham will kick off their league campaign on September 10th at London Scottish before hosting Cornish Pirates a week later at the Bay (Sep 18th) the full fixtures for the coming campaign, including the group stages of the Championship Cup, can be seen here.
*Main image @NottinghamRugby Jordan Olowufela joins from Leicester Tigers with Premiership experience.