There was no rugby played at Priory Park over the weekend, so we all had the opportunity of watching the pre World Cup warm-up match between Wales and England at the club in the Spiral Lounge on the widescreen TV.
The first team season gets underway competitively on Saturday when they visit Sandbach for the Cheshire Cup, this will be a very important curtain-raiser to the league season. The squad have been really working hard on both their fitness and training ground moves.Both Tom Morton, club captain and Andy Appleyard club coach are pleased with the way it’s settling down. Apps was happy with the side’s performance against Hull, but Morton thought there was another level to improve upon before the side is ready for full contact rugby.
There was an excellent turn out of supporters for that match; pleasing to see vice-captain Sam Moss watching after his recent surgery, he’s hoping to start training again this week. Club President Peter Harper was present, he informed Clubman his task this season will be to coordinate efforts to raise money for all the ongoing refurbishments to the clubhouse.
Also watching were the parents and grandparents of the Oliver twins, James and Harry, it’s always marvellous seeing three generations of MRUFC players together.
In this week’s Column, Clubman would like to recognise one of our partners AZo Network, they sponsor our previous club captain Franky Barker, who when he’s not terrorising defences in the National Leagues he’s doing his day job as their Marketing Manager.
Would you tell us a little of your work away from rugby.
I have spent all my adult life with AZo Network, originally based in Macclesfield then moving to Manchester. We are a content marketing platform for Science. We specialise in digital marketing campaigns for companies working in science, healthcare and engineering. I have been part of the growth of the company for 7 years and was delighted when they agreed to sponsor me last year.
How long have you been playing rugby?
I started by playing full back at Kings School aged 11, however lack of real pace meant I eventually became a lock forward. At Priory Park I also played in the second team when not playing at King’s and made my first team-debut aged 18 in the National Cup away at Dings Crusaders under the watchful eye of my schoolmaster and now current forwards coach here, Rick Jones. It’s a challenge playing at this level to maintain the discipline, diet, training and conditioning. I always stop off at S5 Fitness on the way home every evening after work to do my gym routines.
have you always played at Macclesfield?
When here in England, yes, but I did have spells in Western Australia, Valencia and Loughborough University, that was like playing very fast super rugby in the drier climate around Perth. It’s great being with Macclesfield, the club is in good shape and beginning to open up the clubhouse in the week for functions and becoming a real community asset.
on-field, it’s wonderful seeing teams representing all age groups with four senior sides, a ladies section, walking rugby for super experienced regulars and of course being part of the first team as we build a senior squad to last the next ten years.
How did you enjoy captaincy?
The role is as much as you want to make it. I have been passionate about the club for years and now I’m delighted to help Apps in any way through organising events and helping with digital marketing and communications throughout the club. My best moments were winning the league twice, travelling to London and beating the likes of Blackheath, Rosslyn Park, Barking, Richmond and Ealing. I loved playing with Charlie Mulchrone and Jordan Brookes, both number 9s, they were great game changers and brought the best out of the whole team. Further they created opportunities for all of us helped us to lift our games.
Thank you Franky, we hope all your injuries mend in the short term and look forward to seeing you back in training and playing soon.
The second team games have been released, they will be in the North West Premiership. Home matches in bold:
- 14th September Sedgely Park 2
- 21st Blackburn2
- 28th Chester 2
- 5th October Caldy2
- 12th Fylde 2
- 19th Rossendale 2
- 26th Preston Grasshoppers 2
- 9th November Lymm 2
- 16th Sedgely park 2
- 23rd. Blackburn 2
- 30th Chester 2
- 14th December Fylde 2
- 21st December Rossendale 2
- 4th January Preston grasshoppers 2
- 11th Lymm 2
- 18th ZZ Prem
- 1st February Cup quarter-final
James Cross captained the second team against Congleton but Clubman understands that Fred Taylor will manage and captain the side,. Best of luck to everyone in the squad.
Juniors and Minis
Phil Mason the Mini and Junior Chairman and Under 14 Team Manager informed Clubman that the younger age groups are thriving. They had a wonderful season in 2018/19 with sides for every age group from Under 6 right up to Under 16s. The players then move to play Colts Rugby and of course, we had a magnificent season four Colts actually played first team rugby. As well as these four Toby Moule and Marcus Pyle were capped for Cheshire so we had almost half of the Cheshire Team from Macclesfield and three went on to represent the North of England.
Then several players were invited to join the Sale Sharks Academy which they can do whilst still representing their own clubs.
As with all rugby clubs, we do recognise that schools have the first call so we always release them. Our junior sides mainly play Sundays so plenty are lucky enough to get two games over a weekend. Indeed occasionally some lads play school Saturday morning, third or fourth team Saturday afternoon and Junior/ Colts rugby Sundays.
It’s a golden era for playing and coaching the Minis, Juniors and Colts at our club.
Congratulations to all members involved.