‘THE biggest season in the club’s history’ is how team manager Neil Thomson has described Ivybridge’s debutant campaign in National Three South West.
The Cross-in-Hand side, celebrating their 40th anniversary, begin life at level five on Saturday with a home match against Old Patesians (2.30pm).
They will then follow that up with consecutive derby games against Barnstaple, Exmouth, Brixham and Newton Abbot.
Ivybridge, who have claimed two successive promotions, have warmed up for their big kick-off with pre-season fixtures against Exeter University, Launceston, Wadebridge and Plymouth Fiji Rugby. They also played a 10s tournament at Polson Bridge.
Thomson admits they are all ready to go now and are relishing the challenge life in the higher league will bring.
“It’s been a long pre-season,” he said. “But Lewis (Paterson) and Gareth (Elliot) have prepared the team well.
“This is the biggest season in the club’s history and comes as we are celebrating our 40th anniversary.”
Thomson added: “It would be nice to get a great start.
“But winning is less important than wanting to win, if you know what I mean. You have to have that desire to want to win.
“If you show that desire then you have a far better chance of winning.
“We can’t let teams come to us. It would be very good to get a good start, especially with some big derbies coming up.”
Old Patesians finished 10th in National Three South West last season but they have recruited this summer. Among their signings is Ireland sevens and under-20 winger Ciaran Wardle.
“They have kept everything pretty secret on their website,” said Thomson. “But they thrashed Thornbury, who were in our division last year, so they are going to be pretty strong.
“They could be the dark horses with their signings.
“But we just have to concentrate on our own play.”
Ivybridge are still missing a few key players due to injury.
Tom Scoles has not recovered from his shoulder injury, while Toby Evans is also likely to be out for a couple more weeks as is George Wilson, who has been struggling with a knee injury.
But they are boosted by the return of winger George de Mendonca, who has been training with Plymouth Albion all summer.
De Mendonca featured in Albion’s pre-season matches against Jersey, Bedford and Newton Abbot, but returns to Ivybridge to get game time.