PLYMOUTH Albion back-row forward Herbie Stupple admitted making his senior Cornwall debut last week at Redruth against Gloucestershire was even more emotional than he thought it would be.
Stupple had always wanted to pull on the black and gold shirt in the County Championship but injury and then a change in the rules preventing level one or two players featuring prevented him.
But after an injury-free season at Albion in the National One he was finally able to achieve his ambition and he helped the Duchy to a narrow 33-27 win over Simon Lane’s Gloucetershire side in front of nearly 2,000 people at the Recreation Ground.
“It was lovely running out in the black and gold,” said Stupple. “I just wish I’d had a bit of a better game – I don’t think I’ve had a game like that all year.
“But it was good. It was a great feeling and there was great atmosphere down there.
“Running out there was absolutely everything I wanted it to be. It was probably even a bit more emotional than I thought it would be.
“It felt weird – it is different. I have got all my mates from the age groups playing in the team and it is a great buzz and just a great feeling.”
Reigning champions Cornwall needed a last-gasp try from Stupple’s Albion team-mate Rupert Freestone to sneak victory.
This Saturday the Duchy head to Bishop Stortford to take on Hertfordshire in their second pool match.
Hertfordshire, who will be without Old Albanian players this weekend due to their play-off match with Sedgley Park, beat Surrey last Saturday in their opening match.
If Cornwall could win on their travels then they would have a great chance of reaching Twickenham for a third successive year under head coach Graham Dawe.
“It is a massive game,” said Stupple. “After last week we want to make a bit more of a statement as we did not gel quite as well as we wanted to in that first game. But it’s new faces and new systems, so I think we’ve learnt more about ourselves after that game.”
Stupple played at Twickenham with his college in the Daily Mail Cup final and featured there for Exeter Chiefs in the Middlesex Sevens.
“It is a great feeling playing there, but I’m not looking that far ahead,” he said.
“It would be amazing, especially for my family, but we are just looking at this weekend.”
He added: “Some things went well last week. We did some good things – our maul and scrum were really good. If we can keep those as good as they were but make our defence stronger and get people in positions earlier we’ll be a lot better.”
Stupple has just enjoyed his best season in senior rugby with Albion.
The 25-year-old started every one of their 30 league games and scored 14 tries as the club claimed an impressive 22 wins.
However, like most of the Albion players Stupple is unsure what his future holds.
He has held talks with the club about staying at Brickfields but knows if he wants to make a living in rugby he will have to move away from the area.
“It is still wait and see,” he said. “It is all up in the air.
“I am starting to pursue things outside of rugby as well. I have applied for four jobs as I need to think about my family rather than the rugby all the time.
“After this year and everything happening (at Albion) it has hit home that I have to sort my life out outside of rugby.
“It is probably harder for me after the season I have had to start looking outside rugby for things, but if I have another good season then who knows what might happen. Teams might come in and if there is interest I might have to start thinking about it.”