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Nottingham to face Premiership giants first up

22 May 2012

  • Nottingham will travel to Sunbury to face Aviva Premiership outfit London Irish
  • It’s a chance to benchmark ourselves against a top Premiership side - Delaney
Delon Armitage in action for Aviva Premiership side London Irish

Photo: Getty Images

Nottingham Rugby will kick-off pre-season with a match away to Premiership club London Irish on Friday, August 10.

Green and Whites director of rugby, and former Cup winner with the Exiles, Glenn Delaney said the trip to his old stomping ground at Sunbury-on-Thames will be an ideal way to open the 2012/13 campaign.

“It is quality opposition to face first up, and we have always done tough pre-seasons here at Nottingham which has stood us in good stead,” Delaney said.

“This year will be no different. They will play exciting, open rugby that will be a test for us defensively. In the same breath this will be a good way to see how, over the four years since we last played them, things have changed. It’s a chance to benchmark ourselves against a top Premiership side.”

“We seem to be a side that Premiership sides like playing against because we will give them a challenge. It is always a tough ask for us, but they respect the fact that they will get a good game out of it.”

Nottingham’s links with Irish go beyond a history of pre-season meetings, with Delaney a part of the side that triumphed over Northampton at Twickenham in 2002, delivering the club’s first major trophy.

More recently, England and Exiles loosehead forward Alex Corbisiero spent a loan-spell with the RFU Championship club in 2007-08.

And it is one player Delaney hopes to see suited up in the emerald green jersey on August 10.

“They will be wanting to work their systems and will put out the strongest side that they deem fit and I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t put out their top players,” Delaney said.

While it’s an enticing match against top-flight opposition, Delaney believes the backdrop of the club’s spiritual home and training base will be the perfect team building environment.

And with the gates open free to all, the night promises to attract a festival atmosphere.

It is quality opposition to face first up - Delaney

“We played this same fixture a few years ago now and it was a great way to bring all the playing staff and coaches together,” Delaney said.

“A Friday night game at Sunbury is a great club day, where you have a barbeque going and showcase of pre-season rugby to entertain the fans.”

With the match coming a month before the 2012/13 RFU Championship campaign kicks-off, Delaney will be expecting his troops to be battle-hardened. What they will be lacking in match practice they will make up for in physical endurance, with the side getting a marathon pre-season underway with a four-week fitness block starting May 28.

“The first game is the classic case of getting the cobwebs out of system, testing a few things we have been working on, and is simply a chance to review and see where guys are at,” Delaney said.

“We will be mixing up our pre-season, testing our defences and our attacks in all different ways as we take on Irish and then back up with a trip away to National One side Loughborough a week later,” Delaney said.

“There is still one pre-season match that we are yet to set in stone, but it will surely be one for all players and fans to look forward to at Meadow Lane.”