TAVISTOCK will begin their pre-season campaign on Thursday night when they make the 15-mile trip across Dartmoor to play Okehampton II (7pm).
The Sandy Park club are expecting the Cornwall/Devon League to be highly competitive this coming season, with North Tawton, Exeter Athletic and Veor coming up and Truro and Paignton coming down.
And they are keen to make a better start than they did last year when they lost six of their opening seven games.
They have lost Andrew Craddock to Okehampton and Jack Glover is set to move to Scotland, but they do have Martin Budden fit again after missing last season due to a knee injury and Aidan Mason has returned from Exeter Saracens and Jake Crabb has joined from Launceston. They also have the likes of Richard Cann, Sam Northmore and Glenn Fuller returning after not playing much and have more colts coming through like Tom Pearson and Toby Teague.
Tavistock do intend to give most of their squad a run out on Thursday against an Okehampton second string that won the Devon Merit Table last season ahead of Exmouth, Barnstaple and Devonport Services.
“We are taking about 30 players and so will probably have two different teams out,” said player-coach Hammy Kerswill.
“The boys have been really keen to get going. I was keen for a bit of a longer break and we had about four or five weeks off but they were all raring to go again.”
Thursday’s match will be just one of a number of pre-season rugby games coming up in the next few days.
On Friday evening, Ivybridge will begin their warm-up campaign with a match against Exeter University at Cross-in-Hand (7.30pm), followed by another against Kingsbridge away on the Saturday.
The Bridgers have named a strong side to play the students at home, but young backs Dan Lilley and Jay Toogood will get to stake their claims with starts at full-back and scrum-half, respectively.
On Saturday, Tamar Saracens will entertain higher league Plymstock Albion Oaks at the Parkway, while a Saltash XV will play a Plymouth Argaum XV in a match to celebrate the Ashes’ 50th anniversary. Argaum were the first team Saltash played.