IVYBRIDGE’S preparations for life in National Three South West are in full swing.
The Cross-in-Hand club returned for pre-season training on Tuesday night and, according to coach Lewis Paterson, everyone was eager to get going again.
Ivybridge have secured two successive promotions, winning Western Counties West and then finishing runners-up in South West One West.
“This time last year I think we had the same sort of feelings,” said Paterson (pictured above). “We went into South West One not knowing what to expect. It was quite a daunting and we didn’t know if we would do well or even survive.
“But I think we are all looking forward to the challenge (of National Three South West). We just want to get to that first game and see where we are.
“We had our first pre-season session last night. We had 36 players there and all the boys look sharp and fresh.”
Ivybridge have certainly been handed a tough start to life in the higher league. They face four Devon derbies in their opening five matches.
They start with a home fixture against Old Patesians before travelling to Barnstaple, then entertaining Exmouth and Brixham in consecutive weeks before playing Newton Abbot away.
“We have got a lot of local derbies,” said Paterson. “But I think that’s good for everyone in the league.
“Everyone’s looking forward to it and it should be good for Devon rugby with the amount of teams from the county in the league.
“We have got a lot of pre-season games arranged, so we’ll have played a lot of rugby before the league starts.”
Ivybridge’s first pre-season match will be against Wadebridge on August 15. Warm-up games against Devonport Services, Torquay, Launceston and Exeter Students are also pencilled in.
The club have been boosted by the return of centre Jordan Anderton from Newton Abbot.
Anderton enjoyed a good centre partnership with Paterson in 2013/14. However, Paterson believes the likes of Billy Pinkus and Toby Evans might have something to say about whether that previously successful partnership resumes.
“There’s plenty of competition for places, which is what you want,” said Paterson. “You want depth and competition in the squad.”
Winger Hayden Coles will be looking to get back into the team after missing a large part of last season with a broken arm, but Ivybridge will have to do without fellow winger Max Snowdon next season.
Snowdon ruptured his ACL and fractured his knee cap in Ivybridge’s play-off win over Towcestrians in the final match of last season. The injury is set to keep him out for a year.