The future is bright for Clitheroe’s rugby team

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CLITHEROE Rugby Club captain Oliver McEntyre cut a frustrated figure last Saturday as he desultorily stubbed his boot into a rock hard Littlemoor pitch.

With his team finally beginning to show some flashes of form, it was with a heavy heart yet another match was postponed. Off to the bar for the Six Nations then!

McEntyre can be especially rueful at calling off a game as he counts down his three-season tenure as captain.

Nine games to go until those mad Friday phone calls can be passed onto another, but nine games until the pride and honour of leading the town team on the pitch will be over.

For good? Well that’s for the future.

As so far as this season goes it has been so far one of mixed fortunes, many troughs and peaks, but unhappily in the cold light of day, far too may troughs for any ones liking.

The results on the pitch have not gone entirely to plan and the old adage that the table doesn’t lie is fair enough.

But with a very small club like Clitheroe you always have to look at the wider picture and ever the optimist have to look to the immediate future and the longer term with an open mind.

Clitheroe ply their trade in a predominately football area, where the oval ball game is very much a minority sport, especially and crucially at school level.

Although the Sunday mini/junior sections are still very active, it is against a tough backdrop of the mighty bandwagon that is Association Football.

Nevertheless the current Under 15 age group have a tidy squad and have put together a number of notable results.

If their enthusiasm can be spread both up and down the age group strata it can only be a good force for the Club.

It would be to simplistic to describe the senior teams as a mixture of youth and experience, because at Clitheroe age does not always equal great experience!

Some players turn to rugby at maybe a more mature age, and can take a little while to adapt to the seemingly more complex laws.

But all players young or old are welcome in the great rugby family, and indeed it is one of the game’s beauties and strengths, where there is room and positions for all shapes, sizes, ages and speeds.

Indeed, Clitheroe have their own share of old stagers who have done sound service for both first and second XVs and while some of them will hopefully don the maroon and gold jersey with pride for some seasons to come, Clitheroe can look forward with some degree of confidence at some of the younger generation of talent to take them into the future.

The three-quarter line, home of the handsome fancy-dans and speed merchants has thrown up some exciting potential in the last couple of seasons.

Some of these lads will be the mainstay of the club going forward - Chris Waddington, Stuart Railton, James Barrett, Nathan Peel and Martin Lafranceschina.

Up front in the forwards, it is fair to say the age profile is higher than desirable, but the talent is there to be nurtured if one looks hard enough.

Front row forwards Ben Graves and Aaron Atkinson, both prime examples.

However a young man with masses of unfulfilled potentional is Aaron Atkinson; he has the full package for a modern day prop forward; power, strength, size and an improving technique.

He now needs the self belief to realise just how good he actually could be.

On the blind side of the scrum Ross Chamberlain has made the position his own, and has led the way in defence adding an extra bite to the pack.

There are one or two up and comers from the seconds who may yet make their mark with the correct application and dedication. Second row Dave Rees has the physique and enthusiasm to make the grade and also wiry flanker Joe Newton is a rival for his father David’s mantle – a notable former lock forward of many years ago.

One person whose name keeps cropping up is that of the coach, Steve Llewellyn.

Drafted in just before Christmas, his enthusiasm for rugby, as befits a dyed in the wool Welshman, is infectious. Training sessions and game analysis have been well received

If some of the aforementioned players plus others who have yet to get back into regular rugby can stay fit, injury free and available for matches the future can look bright as we move forward into Spring.

Today, weather permitting, Clitheroe host Newton le Willows at Littlemoor, kick-off 2-15 p.m.