Plymouth Albion / Rugby

Plymouth Albion’s survival fight comes 10 years after Twickenham cup final

IMG_1907PLYMOUTH Albion will be fighting for their Championship survival this weekend, but it was a different story a decade ago.

On this day 10 years ago, Albion played in their first – and only – Twickenham Cup final when they took on Bedford Blues in the Powergen Shield.

At the time, Plymouth were also pushing Bristol and Exeter at the top of the league.

Unfortunately, it was a case of so near yet so far for Albion in the 2004/05 season.

Their cup final on April 16 ended in disappointment when they lost 14-13 after Luke Arscott controversially had a try disallowed by referee Bruce Robertson, James Pritchard dislocated his shoulder and Bedford won with a late penalty.

And progressing to Twickenham in the cup also affected their league hopes. Their vital league match with title-rivals Bristol was postponed a month so that the sides could meet in the semi-finals of the cup.


Albion won the cup match at Brickfields, with Argentinian international Martin Schusterman scoring a winning try, but by the time the re-arranged league game between the two sides came around Plymouth were missing key players. Forwards Dan Ward-Smith, Andy Perry, Schusterman, Altan Ozdemir and Tino Paoletti were all absent due to injury or international calls and Bristol claimed their first win in five attempts over Albion and went on to win promotion.IMG_1906

However, the squad that played at Twickenham 10 years ago and came so close to promotion is one that Albion supporters will look back on with pride.

Ward-Smith, Perry, Schusterman, Arscott, Lee Robinson, James Pritchard, Ed Barnes, Paoletti, Nic Rouse and Alfie Tooala all went on to play for top flight clubs, while Keni Fisilau and Danny Thomas became club record holders and Nat Saumi became head coach.


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