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Clubman Week Commencing 27.04.2020


As published last week, Macclesfield Rugby Club’s pathway for young players is carefully laid out for a smooth and safe transition into senior rugby. Rugby is a tough and physical game that tests the resolve of all players, at some time; but when you’re only 13 it can be a tough call. One of the Club’s Under Fourteen players, Billy Bridgewater, was forced onto the sidelines this season with a pretty serious hip injury. That hasn’t deterred his love of the game; all season he has been at Priory Park to support his team-mates in the U14s and the 1st team at home matches; wind, rain and shine, and there was a lot of the former two! Billy’s support did not go unnoticed by the 1st team squad.

Young Billy has undergone a major operation recently to remove a number of plates and screws from his hip, following his injury. Hearing about it, the first team coaches and playing squad wanted to show their appreciation for his support and young stoicism. The coaches, Captain Tom Morton and several senior players have posted a video on social media to wish him a speedy recovery, and once he’s back next season to join the 1st team at a home game to help the coaches Andy Appleyard and Rick Jones in the pre-match warm-up session.


Another cog in last week’s story ‘RUGBY FOR ALL IN MACCLESFIELD’ was that of Women’s Rugby at Priory Park. An early attempt was made in the 70s at Tytherington and about 10 years ago a group of ladies from outside of the Club tried to set up at Priory Park. But some time ago, there was a game played against a Women’s team from Leeds University (including a Macc lady). Ray Richardson recalls: “It was 1989, Dads and Lads versus a very fit group of young ladies, and my first outing for Macc; an exceedingly young Jeremy Bostock played, and with, the then, 1st team Captain Steve Henshall on the whistle, making sure that we weren’t going to win”. The Leeds young women, up for a great day out, left a lasting impression on some of those young lads.

Fast forward 30 years and Women’s rugby returns to Priory Park; hopefully to now become a permanent part of rugby life at Priory Park. The Women’s game has grown considerably during the past decade, particularly in the South of England, with a real injection for the England squad after the players being put on full-time contracts, along with some other elite players at Club level. Women’s Rugby in the North West has yet to reach the levels of Saracens, Harlequins and Wasps, but with the promotion of Sale Sharks Women into the top tier and the recruitment of Katy Daly-Mclean MBE as Player Coach, playing standards could be about to change.

Mary Thorp has been behind the development at Macclesfield and this is what she had to say: “Macclesfield Ladies have had a fantastic season this year; focus has been on developing as a cohesive team and gaining much-needed experience with the help of Head Coaches Simon Dempsey and Tony King. It’s been great to see the team continue to grow with a couple of younger players showing huge potential. Our Tuesday night training sessions have been hugely successful thanks to the numbers we retain and the standard of coaching. 

We were lucky enough to get a couple of development fixtures under our belt earlier in the season, but sadly stormy weather and Coronavirus have prevented some other games that were in the pipeline. Nevertheless, Macc Ladies continue to keep in touch remotely, with quizzes, Strava challenges and montage videos keeping us entertained and still feeling part of the team!

With the next few months up in the air, we are working on keeping fit, keeping healthy and preparing for next season where we will continue to grow numbers, gain experience and prepare for the ultimate goal of joining a competitive league in 2021-22.

A few quotes from teammates: Kirsty Wallis – “My first season with my first try and my first year of many with these amazing ladies”; Hannah Hague – “Back to rugby after a couple of decades off and I’ve joined the best rugby family in the world: fitness, laughs and the most amazing bunch of girls”; Amy Wilkie – “On or off the pitch, the camaraderie is something I’ve never experienced. No matter the challenges each of us face, we all pull together as a team”; Ange Aggersbury – “When we started this team I never could have imagined how much it would change my life”; Liz Jarratt – “Hit 39, decided it was now or never if I was ever going to play rugby – best decision I’ve ever made!”; Annie James – “First season training with an amazing bunch of ladies, can’t wait to get out on the pitch with them!”

Their enthusiasm is obvious, which will hopefully infect some other young ladies looking for fun, on and off the field, at Priory Park.

Macclesfield Ladies Rugby Team
Macclesfield Ladies Rugby Team

Virtual Rugby has had a quieter week, besides the usual online fitness sessions and a cheeky loo-roll, passing challenge by Second Row forward Tom Burden. The highlight, in terms of effort, is by far, from young Alex Davies, younger brother of 1st team Full Back Will. Alex set out to raise £475 for Cancer Research UK; he raced past his target, so far reaching £1300. According to Dad Rob: “After a lazy Saturday, he got up today at 5.30 and started running (picture Forrest Gump) … he stopped with sore knees and blisters after 40km … he never ceases to amaze me”. Macc Rugby lads – brilliant!

Alex Davies on his lonely long-distance run for Cancer Research UK
Alex Davies on his lonely long-distance run for Cancer Research UK

Other social news, new pitch-side sponsor The New Shalimar has reopened their kitchens for take-away service (they know what rugby players like) and MRUFC caterers the Barbecue has increased their home delivery service to include more pies and quiches – see the website for more tasty treats.


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