Torquay's Recreation Ground. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Torquay's 'great positivity' over rugby's new structural shake-up

Dave Thomas

Torquay Athletic chairperson Jackie Coles says that the Recreation Ground club is tackling rugby’s new structural shake-up for the 2022-2023 season with ‘great positivity’.

The Tics are in a new SW Counties two-level Devon Premier Division which will keep them in the county for all 18 league games but will see their 1st XV play the 2nd XVs of Brixham, Barnstaple, Devonport Services and Ivybridge for the first time.

Their other opponents are old rivals North Tawton and Withycombe, plus Honiton and ‘promoted’ duo Exeter Saracens and South Molton.

Torquay have also just appointed former player-coach Dan Williams as their new head coach.

“We’ve gone from having six long journeys to one, so we’ve reduced our costs significantly,” said Coles.

Jackie Coles
Jackie Coles

“It’s also very attractive for our players, who can use their Saturday mornings for other things, like family and work. So yes, it works for us.

“In some respects, playing the 2nd XVs of some bigger clubs would also be attractive, but there may be disadvantages there.

“We may well come up against first team players dropping down for various reasons, and if an opposition first team has a match cancelled, will that change the make-up of the squads that we face?

“I’m sure we’ll spend the first couple of seasons under the new set-up balancing all that out, but generally we are approaching it with great positivity.”

Not too much has changed for Brixham, whose 1st XV will face several old rivals in the Regional One South West Division.

And Newton Abbot will again meet old foes like Teignmouth, Wadebridge Camels, St Austell and Truro in Regional Two South-West.

But Paignton, who are in Counties Two Western West Division, still face four trips to Cornwall (Penryn, Bude, Falmouth and Pirates Amateurs in Penzance), as well as Kingsbridge, Tiverton, Wiveliscombe and promoted Topsham and Cullompton.

Torquay Athletic RFC
Torquay Athletic RFC

Next season starts on September 3.

Opening-day fixtures will see Brixham travel to Weston-super-Mare, Newton go to Sidmouth and Paignton to Penryn, as well as Teignmouth v Sherborne, Torquay v Honiton, Brixham II v South Molton, Paignton II v Teignmouth II and Newton II v Plymstock Albion Oaks.