Market Rasen and Louth RFC: Chris Starling takes over captaincy for season kick-off

Chris Starling takes over from brother Dave as Market Rasen and Louth First XV skipper for the 2015/16 season EMN-150831-092342002
Chris Starling takes over from brother Dave as Market Rasen and Louth First XV skipper for the 2015/16 season EMN-150831-092342002

There will be a new face, but a familiar name at the helm when Market Rasen and Louth RFC kick off their Midlands One campaign on Saturday.

Chris Starling has replaced his brother Dave as club captain, while scrum-half Chris Everton steps up to vice-captain to provide a vociferous ally.

The Red and Greens will look to improve on last season when they finished seventh in the league and were runners-up in the Notts, Lincs and Derbys Cup.

Head coach Rhuari Pike is cautiously optimistic about the coming season and believes the side can build on the previous campaign with a largely unchanged set of forwards. But departures and retirements have brought a rebuilding of the backline.

Dan Robinson gamely stepped up to the mark at fly-half last season after the injury-induced early retirement of Matt Sutton, but Robinson has left the area after graduating from Lincoln University, leaving the First XV with a similar dilemma.

Pike is placing his faith in winger-cum-full-back Peter Everton to do a job at number 10 and hopefully form a successful half-back partnership with his brother Chris.

Sutton’s involvement with the coaching should greatly assist the novice fly-half in gaining an appreciation of the position.

The departure of Robinson and the retirement of Meehal Grint has also left the side without a recognised front line kicker.

But there may well be someone lurking in the shadows so far denied the chance to show off their talents because of the success of the previous incumbents.

Pre-season training has seen the arrival of several new faces as players from other local clubs look to step up a level.

Following second-teamer Matt Inchley’s stay in Canada, two young Canadians are winging their way to Rasen to experience some English grassroots rugby.

The club will also be represented at Lincoln University’s Freshers’ Fair to encourage students to join the Willingham Road club and maybe unearth a talent to emulate Robinson’s contribution.

The first team has had one pre-season run-out against Goole where a largely second string side was too good for their Yorkshire Three league opponents.

In previous years, lack of pre-season matches has not proved a hindrance and the club hopes the same will apply this year.

The new season kicks off at 3pm with the first and second teams hosting Matlock. Entry to the game is free and all support is welcome.

The two Midlands One divisions have been realigned this year after the three teams relegated from the National League were all from the West Midlands and drop into Midlands One West.

This has resulted in five of the six teams promoted from the Midlands Two divisions being placed in Midlands One East where Rasen will face four clubs they have never played before – Newbold-on-Avon, Northampton Old Scouts, Old Laurentians and Wellingborough.

The fifth promoted side, Matlock, have bounced straight back after suffering relegated the season before last.

The second team will continue to play in the Notts Pennant League and will again be led by Sam Routledge.

The skipper will continue to nurture the young talent emerging from the junior section and integrate them into the senior rugby culture.

James Woolley has taken on the mantle of Third XV captain with the unenviable task of moulding a side from gnarled veteran players and callow youths to mount a challenge in the Lincolnshire Merit Table.

The junior teams have also been training hard in readiness for the new season, while the minis will return for registration day on Sunday, September 6.

The club is grateful for the continued support of Duckworth Landrover as main sponsor and all other sponsors who contribute to the ever-increasing costs of running a successful rugby club.

There are still opportunities available to sponsor a player. Full details available from Dave Starling.

The club also welcomes new members and anyone interested should see membership secretary Clare Fenwick in the clubhouse.