Youth to the fore as Clifton make strides

At the midpoint of the 2023-24 season Clifton Rugby Club can to view their standing in National League West with a degree of satisfaction as they are established in the top flight of clubs in what is proving to be a competitive league and they are been able to demonstrate their ability to play fast paced games.

Luctonians are currently the promotion favourites but being put under pressure by some close results in a league which is showing that there are few easy wins. 

Clifton have suffered injuries to some experienced players including prop forward Charlie Bullimore, lock Henry Harper. Flanker Max Woodward and back three player Alex Howman. However their absence has created opportunities for younger players to prove their worth.  Second row forwards Freddie Myatt and Shay Sainsbury  typify those players who have settled well into the set-up, with both deserving man of the match awards awarded by the Clifton Sausage restaurant. 

The ranks have been boosted by the addition of academy players from Premiership clubs joining on a loan basis.  Flying winger Tom Ormsby from Bristol Bears, young Welsh forward Ivor Emanuel from Bath and former London Irish fly half Rory Taylor, now with Gloucester, have all added value as has exciting flanker Kofi Cripps, who has signed on from the Bears.  

The youthful element has combined well around  slightly older players including centres Wil Owen and captain Marcus Nel and forward Ricky Cano and Brad Talbot to form a team capable of stretching the best in the league.

Player coach Luke Cozens directs operations in training and from the number 10 shirt in matches. He  commented after a recent match:  “A lot of things we have been working on that have not necessarily shown in the previous few weeks started to flow yesterday.

“Very pleased how we held the ball for long periods and carried with purpose up front. 

“The ongoing challenge for us now is can we repeat and play consistently at that level when put under pressure.

“We have a young group playing regular league rugby and learning every week which is great in the current climate. “

Looking ahead to 2024, the club is determined to see its 1st XV consolidate its current league standing.  The next home fixture is on Saturday 27th January when Chester will be the visitors with a 1430 kick off

Before that match Clifton face two successive and challenging long weekend excursions to West Cornwall to face Camborne and Redruth.

Roger Opie