The league season may not be kicking off until 2 September, but, with comings-and-goings already occurring, pre-season friendlies pretty much now lined up, and the league constitution now in place, rugby’s Regional 2 North Midlands division will see the presence of four, Nottinghamshire clubs.
Newark, who finished sixth last time around, themselves joined in the division by relegated Notts pairing of Paviors, and West Bridgford, and newly-promoted Mellish, making for a good selection of local dust-ups in the 2023/23 season.
For Newark, and President Tim Barker, two of their derbies arrive in the first five games of the season, beginning with the opening day (2 September) visit of Sutton Coldfield, and quickly followed, in week four (23 September), with the first of those derbies, and the visit of Paviors.
Even their Seconds, who play in the Counties 2 Midlands East (North), have a good selection of derby matches to look forward to, their first being on match-day two, when they make the trip to Nottingham Moderns (9 September).
It’s pretty much a case of, same again though, for the Newark President, looking ahead to the new campaign he said: “Mellish, Paviors and West Bridgford, yes, you’d expect to have bigger crowds at those games, and our supporters will be looking forward to them.
“Travel-wise though, it’s going to be still around the same for us, and that’s alright; we were only promoted ourselves the season before last, and finished sixth last time around.
“We weren’t that far off third place either; we’ve analysed the season, and it’s frustrating really, especially with us having beaten the sides above at least once each.
“However, we can take a lot of positives from the campaign as well.
“Last season there was what, eight sides that were new to us, whereas this time, there’s going to be seven (of recent opposition), but we’ll just take each game as it comes.”
There has been a couple of, in-house changes, at the club as well of late, two of the clubs’ stalwarts taking on new roles as Adam Corcoran becomes Director of Rugby, and James Offer is the new, Seniors Head Coach.
Playing in all 22 league matches last season, James Brogden took home the Firsts’ Players Player of the Year, Oliver Dodders was the Young Player of the Year, and James Tarbutt the Coaches Player of the Year, respectively.
With Newark Seconds winning their division, thus taking promotion, the club as a whole has more than 400 individuals from U18s downwards, Mr. Barker adding: “Our seconds both winning the league, and being promoted for the first time, was a great achievement.
“Next season will be a challenge, but they’ll certainly give it a real go; overall though, we’re continually looking to attract new players, whilst keeping the core of the club intact.
“We’re looking forward to the new season and, opening against Sutton Coldfield, they were really good fixtures last season, both of us winning one each.
“(Opening game at home) we get some good numbers down here and home advantage, it does help.
“As for Paviors, the first derby match, you’d expect both them, and West Bridgford, to be pretty strong, and they’ll be challenging, so for me, the league next season looks a lot stronger, more competitive.
“I don’t usually like setting targets though but, if we can improve on last seasons (sixth place) finish, and we get things right, I’ll be happy.”
Opening month fixtures for Newark Firsts is – Sutton Coldfield (H, 2 September), Long Eaton (H, 9 September), Melbourne (A, 16 September), Paviors (H, 23 September), West Bridgford (A, 30 September)
Opening month for Newark Seconds is – Grimsby (A, 2 September), Nottingham Moderns (A, 9 September), Kesteven (H, 16 September), Melton Mowbray (A, 23 September), Derby Seconds (H, 30 September)
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @newarkrufc the home venue of Newark Rugby Club at Kelham Road.