Rugby

Promotion-chasing Plymstock Albion Oaks begin their summer rebuilding

PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks have confirmed six summer arrivals as they bid to finally get out of the Cornwall/Devon League.

Oaks have narrowly missed out on promotion in the last two seasons.

They were left frustrated last term when the league ended early due to the coronavirus pandemic and the positions were decided on a formula and Plymstock missed out on going up by just 0.37 of a point.

To try and help them get out of the division they have brought in Tom Holliday (back-row, pictured top), Tom Worboys (centre/back-row), Jake Turfrey (back-three) and Gary Mitchell (utility back) from city rivals Plymouth Argaum, while Ciaran Poat (winger) and Lewis Barnaby (fly-half/centre) have returned from university.

Oaks, who have welcomed former Plymouth Albion, Brixham and Devon head coach Dan Parkes to their coaching set-up over the summer, hope that Holliday’s arrival will soften the blow of losing powerful back-rowers Sam Snell and high-rated youngster Pete Keanie.

Snell wants to play at a higher level and has been linked with Okehampton, while teenager Keanie has signed for Plymouth Albion, although there is a possibility he could yet be loaned back.

“Pete has got a contract with Albion and is training with them at the moment,” said Oaks player-coach Aiden Taylor. “I would love to have him back but it depends on what Albion want to do with him.

“He didn’t have a full season last year because of his (shoulder) injury so I think it would be good to get him playing some regular senior rugby, but Albion might want to put him at a higher level. He is going to be a top player when he fully develops.

“Sam (Snell) did really well for us last season so it is a bit of a loss, but we do have plenty of back-row options to fill the void.

“Tom Holliday will be a big signing for us,” added Taylor. “Tom Worboys looks really good as well and Jake Turfrey has got his love back for rugby after a year out. I have played against him when he was fully firing and he looked a good player.”

Taylor has not ruled out more arrivals at Horsham Fields this summer.

“We are hoping to get a few more but it is still early days,” he said. “Once we can get to the next stage of training, I think we might get a few more up here.”

Clubs are still waiting to find out when the 2020-21 league season will start but when it does Oaks know they will face a tough opening few weeks.

The provisional fixtures, which were announced on Wednesday, will see Oaks host Torquay Athletic, visit nearly-promoted Withycombe and entertain former South West One side Cullompton in their opening three games.

“We do have a tough start with Torquay, Cullompton and Withycombe in the first three games,” said Taylor. “But hopefully when the season does start we will be firing. If we are going to get promoted it is going to be this year.”

RFU leagues have been split into two conferences on geography this year because of Covid-19 and the uncertainty on when they can start. Teams will play everyone home and away in their conference but may not play all the other teams in the division home and away. The RFU have three options for the leagues depending on when they can start.

Oaks, though, miss out on two Plymouth Combination derby games in the opening half of the season as Saltash and Liskeard-Looe are not in the same conference as them.

Saltash, relegated from Western Counties West, will open life back in the division with a home game against neighbours Liskeard.

In the South West Premier, Ivybridge have been handed a repeat of last year’s opening three weeks of the season with an away trip to Exmouth to start off with, then a blank weekend followed by a match against Launceston.

Devonport Services will start South West One with a trip to newly-promoted St Austell before entertaining fellow newcomers Wellington.

The big game on the opening day of the Devon One season will see Tamar Saracens host their big city rivals Old Techs. Argaum will travel to newly-promoted Salcombe, while OPMs visit Totnes.

Full list of provisional fixtures can be found HERE. Dates given are just a guide and they will be adjusted by the RFU once a start date has been confirmed.

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