Plymouth Albion / Rugby

Albion happy for their players to play in the County Championship

Robin Wedlake

GRAHAM DAWE says it will be up to Plymouth Albion’s players if they want to play in the County Championship.

As a club, Albion have always supported the county competition, but for the last few years their players were unable to feature after a change in the rules prohibited Premiership and Championship personnel from featuring.

However, following Albion’s relegation to National One, their players are eligible again to play and champions Cornwall have already officially approached the club to release a number of their stars, including Herbie Stupple and Sam Matavesi, who were not available last year.

Graham DaweAlbion are still waiting to see if any other counties will ask for their players, but Dawe, who is head coach of Cornwall, says the club would not stand in anyone’s way if they wanted to feature in the competition.

“For certain players county rugby is an important competition in their calendar,” said Dawe, has won the County Championship as both a player and a coach with Devon and Cornwall.

“The County Championship fits with certain players but not others.

“If players have a massive desire to play for their county and it is where they have come from to get to this point in their careers then it’s a good thing for them to carry on and play, providing they are not carrying any injuries.

“However, certain players don’t have a wish to play county rugby, maybe they want to get in a good month’s fitness and strength training, and you have to respect that as well.

“There is no point playing a game of rugby if you don’t want to do it. No-one will be twisting anyone’s arm to play. But if they have a massive desire to play for their county and develop their reputation, then good on them.

“It is their choice, but they have to take a balanced look at it and make their decision.”

Dawe is not the only county coach in the Albion set-up. Plymouth’s assistant coach Simon Lane is heading up the Gloucestershire set-up this season. Gloucestershire will play defending champions Cornwall in their opening game.

“It could be a twist to the tail with Simon heading up the Gloucestershire coaching set-up,” said Dawe. “He will have a lot of inside knowledge on the Cornwall players and that is the first game in May.

“But we are not looking at that yet. What we are concentrating on at the moment is preparing Albion to face Blackheath in our next league game. We’ll talk about county rugby when it comes.”

Devon play Cornwall at Camborne on Sunday in the National Under-20 Championship. Whoever loses will finish bottom of Pool Four and could be relegated.

Albion development players Jim Massey and Noah Nash are in the Devon Under-20 squad, while Ben Stean, who has been on loan at Camborne, is in the Cornwall starting line-up. Billy Searle could have featured for Cornwall, but he picked up a slight knock last weekend.  Curtis Reynolds and Paul Hamber are also unavailable for Cornwall due to injuries.

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