- Staffordshire victims of Leek’s success
- Warwickshire and Leicestershire at home in Shield openers
Photo: RFU Archive
Staffordshire will be victims of Leek’s success when they open their County Championship Shield campaign against Cumbria at Workington in Pool Two on Saturday, May 3.
Leek will be in action in the RFU Intermediate Cup final against Trowbridge at Twickenham Stadium on the same afternoon, which means that their county contingent, including fly half Gary McDermott, will not be available to face Cumbria.
“Gary remains an integral part of our senior squad and he has trained with us this week,” said Staffordshire’s chairman of playing, Bill Leason.
“But Leek’s success in getting to Twickenham means that he has other commitments this weekend.”
Staffordshire have re-entered the County Championship Shield this season after they opted out 12 months ago because of difficulties in raising a side.
Their selection for Cumbria has been further complicated by injuries sustained by a number of Burton players in last week’s promotion play-off against Derby but the squad will include players from Longton, the highest-ranked league team in the county, Staffordshire Cup winners Lichfield, Walsall, Stafford, Stoke and Rugeley.
Buckinghamshire first up for Warwickshire
In Pool One of the County Championship Shield Warwickshire, who were edged out by Cumbria in last season’s semi-finals, begin their campaign with a home game against Buckinghamshire at Nuneaton.
Warwickshire will again be coached by Huw Thomas, Lee Cassell and Dan Osleton and will select their squad from Broadstreet, who have won promotion to National Two North next season, Nuneaton, Sutton Coldfield, Leamington, Old Leamingtonians and Newbold-on-Avon.
Leicestershire host Essex at Vipers in the other Pool One match on Saturday and are likely to name a starting line-up comprised entirely of players from the Hinckley and South Leicester clubs.
“We’ve had good buy-in from the players from both of those clubs and we believe that we have a very strong squad again,” said Leicestershire head coach, Paul Walsh.
“We don’t enter this competition to mess about. We are in it because we want to win it and we want to go all the way.”
Leicestershire warmed up with a match against Leicester Tigers Academy at Welford Road, which they lost 44-22 having been 22-19 up at half-time.
“We made nine changes for the second half but we were up against some outstanding youngsters and it was a really useful fixture for both sides and one that we hope to make a regular event,” Walsh said.
Mike Holford, the Nottingham and former Leicester Tigers prop, has joined Walsh and Ian Smith on Leicestershire’s coaching team but Harry Ellis, the former England scrum half, is unavailable for county coaching duties this season because of family and work commitments.