- RFU Championship Dream XV revealed
- Bristol and Pirates receive most nominations
Photo: Brian Tempest
Following the conclusion of the play-off stages, the 2011-12 RFU Championship Dream XV has was revealed in the Rugby Paper on Sunday.
Collated by Jon Newcombe, former Rugby Times editor and now contributor to The Rugby Paper, the fifteen players are selected by the coaching teams of the respective clubs in England’s second tier, with 11 of the 12 clubs claiming at least one player.
Robin Copeland of Rotherham polled the highest number of votes (seven out of 12), while Gavin Cattle and Dave Ward (both Cornish Pirates) are named for the third year in a row.
Seven different clubs are represented, with semi-finalists Bristol Rugby and Cornish Pirates topping the list with four apiece.
RFU Championship Dream XV
MARK IRISH (BRISTOL RUGBY) One of the first names on the Bristol team sheet, Irish works tirelessly in the loose and is a huge asset at scrum time. Named in the Dream XV for the second year in a row.
DAVE WARD (CORNISH PIRATES) Having signed for the Cornish Pirates in 2009, the Bath-born hooker has been a major contributor during his three years at the club. With his work rate and dynamism he fully deserves another chance to make it in the Premiership after signing a contract that will see him play for Harlequins next season. Completes a hat-trick of Dream XV nominations having previously appeared in 2010 & 2011.
AARON LIFFCHAK (LONDON SCOTTISH) Selected in last year’s National One Dream XV while with Barking, Liffchak has made the step up in division without any difficulty despite his part-time status. A technically outstanding scrummager with a huge work rate, the London-born prop has been a virtual ever-present in the Scottish pack this season.
ROY WINTERS (BRISTOL RUGBY) An experienced campaigner, Winters remains the fulcrum of Bristol's front five. Strong in the line-out, the lock boasts incredible work-rate and leadership qualities. Narrowly beat off competition from Rotherham’s Sam Dickinson for his place in the team.
IAN NIMMO (CORNISH PIRATES) Completing his second season with the Pirates, Nimmo’s input has been phenomenal in the 2011-12 campaign. A former Scotland U21s international, he has been wholly reliable at the set piece, and his extra effort in the loose has also caught the eye when making tackles like a back-row forward.
ROBIN COPELAND (ROTHERHAM TITANS) Received more votes than any other nominee after an exceptional season that resulted in Cardiff Blues signing him up for next season. Likened to England star Tom Croft for his line-out ability and his exceptional pace in the wide channels, Copeland was the top try-scoring forward during the Championship’s regular season.
JAMES MERRIMAN (BRISTOL RUGBY) Arguably the most complete openside flanker in the Championship. The Bristol vice-captain keeps hold of the number seven jersey for a second season after a string of consistent performances.
SEMISI TAULAVA (ROTHERHAM TITANS) Worcester have beaten off competition from a host of other top flight clubs for the signature of Taulava, who is one of the strongest ball carriers in the league as well as being a rock at the back of the scrum.
GAVIN CATTLE (CORNISH PIRATES - pictured) As committed and respected as ever, this talismanic leader has played over 160 games for the Pirates during his two spells with the club. Cattle has now been named in the Dream XV three years in a row and an incredible five times in total – more than any other player.
GARRY LAW (ROTHERHAM TITANS) A deadly marksman in front of goal and an astute tactical kicker who consistently puts his team in the right areas of the field. Leading points-scorer in the Championship.
Photo: RFU Archive
JOSH BASSETT (BEDFORD BLUES - pictured) Received an England Under-20 call up for this year’s Six Nations on the back of his exploits with the Blues. A deadly finisher who topped the Championship’s try-scoring charts in the regular season.
JUAN PABLO SOCINO (NOTTINGHAM RUGBY) Nominated for the second year running - but with different clubs – for his ability to attack the gain-line. Brings a good kicking game with him, too.
IAIN THORNLEY (LEEDS CARNEGIE) Loaned to Leeds on a season-long deal from Sale, former Wigan RL player Thornley has added a considerable cutting edge to the Leeds back line with his ability to step through tackles and offload to team-mates.
JACK TOVEY (BRISTOL RUGBY) This homegrown Bristol Academy product has been a near ever-present in the Bristol first team this season, showing an assurance beyond his years at full-back, centre and wing.
ROB COOK (CORNISH PIRATES) Few players have made such an impact at the level since the Pirates offered him a full-time contract in 2009. Indeed, brave under the high ball, in all games this terrific counter-attacking full-back has amassed near to 1,000 points for the club in just three seasons. Retains the number 15 jersey.