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From Tag Rugby to 1st XV via England Counties Trials – My ‘Juniors Journey’


By Miles Calvert 

I’d enjoyed ‘Tag’ on a Sunday morning, but at 8 years old, contact rugby sounded a bit daunting. All my tag friends were joining the U9s that September, so I did too.

I was actively encouraged by all of my coaches and I learnt lots from these experienced older heads who had played for the ‘firsts’ themselves. I was lucky enough to be nominated for the Gloucester DPP at U12s and the weekly sessions of ‘drills and skills’ helped me to improve my Sunday game for the Pats. It was at a DPP tournament that I got injured, tearing my ACL at 13 years old. I missed 3 seasons of junior rugby having 2 operations, but throughout that time my only goal was to get back on the pitch. I worked hard to get myself fit again and started playing again in January 2017. We reached the U16s County Cup final that year, where we were narrowly beaten, but I was back playing at a decent level with a great team of friends.


The following season I started playing for the Colts and was nominated for county U17s. I got through the trials and played for the GRFU side against Somerset, Oxfordshire and Dorset, and that season I was also picked to play for the Irish Exiles U18s to play Boys Clubs of Wales. At the start of the 2019 season I was nominated for the county U18 squad, this time the matches were a trial for the England South West counties squad. We had a brilliant team coached by Ben Smith and Downsey, winning both of our games and I was selected to represent the South West U18s.

The standard at the England counties games was very high, and I had to really step up my game, as we were trialling for the England counties squad to play in two capped test matches against Ireland. We were involved in 2 matches and a 2-day camp at Warwick School and the University, where we trained with the other regions in top class facilities and were assessed the whole weekend for our skills on and off the pitch. Unfortunately, I wasn’t selected for the final squad, however I was proud to get as far as I did and experienced very high level rugby and coaching.

Ben Smith contacted me after the county matches to ask if I wanted to play for the 1st XV at Pats so I started training with them once I had finished the England Counties pathway. The whole team were very welcoming – they could probably tell I was a bit nervous playing against blokes twice my size (sometimes three times). My first team debut at Beaconsfield RFC was a mud bath, but despite us losing narrowly I scored a try and got joint man of the match. My second game was at Everest Rd and we hammered Chippenham RFC scoring 8 tries in the process.


My rugby journey has been full of lots of highs and lows, but the support of the club, my coaches and my teammates has been fantastic. I’ll continue to play rugby when I go to University this autumn, but will always look back on my junior rugby days with fond memories.

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2019-20 Season so far by Matt Cape


The 2019-20 season was always going to be a season of massive change for the Senior’s and so far it has not disappointed!  We have a new coaching team comprising Chris Downes, Ben Smith and Will Safe who took over in the summer whilst the players have had to get used to new coaches, team mates and a different coaching and playing approach in both attack and defence.

The players and coaches are the sharp end of a long spear with many people working hard to make it possible for them to perform including Norman Bell and Rubin Hart who ensure that everything is in place on a Saturday and that (most of) the team needs are looked after.  Sophie Brown, our lead physiotherapist, has done an amazing job of keeping the squad together whilst Connor Thompson continues to do an amazing job as Club Captain despite his shoulder injury keeping him off the pitch. They are all ably supported by Steve Cohen, Mark Knight, Michael Angell, Caroline Newman, Dave Osman, Bob Taylor and Gethin Evans whose help and support make it all possible.

We must also recognise the sponsors without whom we would not be able to afford to put a team on the pitch. The principle shirt sponsors this season are Dael Telecom, Irongate Wealth Management and Vinotopia Wine Merchants. In addition we have some amazing player, match and programme sponsors who give us amazing support.

The playing results have not gone to plan this season due, in no small part, to a massive injury list which even Sophie could not wave her magic wand to resolve. The whole of the starting back row comprising George Angell, Richard Hance and Tom Langton, has been missing since the first game and we have played 5 different hookers, 6 number eights, 6 scrum-halves and 6 fly-halves – resulting in us considering burning some of these shirts!!!

The great news is that due to the hard work of the players and coaches the level of performance has improved and we enter 2020 in a positive mood and Connor Thompson – the Club Captain, has returned to the team after almost 2 years off with a serious shoulder injury securing ‘Man of the Match’ in his first game against Chippenham!

Best wishes for 2020


Matt Cape – Club Chairman

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OddBalls Bobble Hats


Old Pats have teamed up with OddBalls to raise awareness of Testicular Cancer. Through this, you might have seen the OPRFC Oddballs hats being worn by players, coaches and supporters.

The Oddballs Foundation has been going since 2014 and is a very popular charity with professional rugby teams and amateur teams. All products and donations help run the OddBalls Foundation and the fantastic work it does. Ambassadors and celebrities promoting it include James Haskell (ex-England and Lions), Shane Williams (ex-Wales and Lions) and Christian Wade (ex-England and Lions).

Closer to home, former Gloucester player Darren Dawiduk is a supporter of the OddBalls Charity after being diagnosed with Testicular Cancer and successfully overcoming it.

The aim of OddBalls is to make a difference to male health around the world – with Testicular Cancer being around 95% curable. An early diagnosis is important so regular checking is vital to this.

Old Pats have sold and distributed 100 hats and this means OPRFC helped raise close to £500. OPRFC are aiming to continue the good work in the New Year with more hats (in a different design) to spread the OddBalls name – with more information on this to be released very soon.

Check them out at to see a wide host of products which include hats, underwear, socks, t-shirts, hoodies and much more!

Please follow them on social media as well by searching OddBalls on Facebook and @myoddballs on Twitter and Instagram.

Connor Thompson Club Captain

Connor Thompson

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Old Pats v Wooton Bassett

Wooton Bassett

The home 1XV match against Royal Wooton Bassett is moved to the Prince of Wales Stadium as there’s a risk of standing water at Everest Road

The final match of 2019, the 6th decade at our Everest Road home is to be relocated to the nearby Prince of Wales Stadium due to the weather. The match will kick off at 2pm before returning to the Clubhouse for some festivities.

Here’s Head Coach Chris Downes to explain: “We’ve been forced into the change because of the risk of cancellation at Everest Road. Standing water is an instant ‘No’ in the modern age and we don’t want anyone calling the match off.

“It’s annoying because we’ve all played in worse, both at home and away. Some say my best games were in the mud but the biggest priority is to make sure the game is played – we’ve already got one match to replay in the New Year.”

The home game against Marlborough which was cancelled on 23 November will likely be replayed on 25th January. Details of that to follow.


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First Solution IT Business Partner of Gloucester Rugby

First Solution IT and Gloucester Rugby

Old Pats Sponsor First Solution Become Official IT Business Partner of Gloucester Rugby

We are pleased to announce that our club sponsor First Solution have agreed to become Gloucester Rugby’s IT Business partner.

Established in 2005, First Solution provide Managed IT and Cyber Security services to help clients realise their desired business outcomes by raising defences and lowering costs. They offer a comprehensive catalogue of services across Infrastructure, Data Security, Risk & Vulnerability Management and Identity and Access Management.

“As a lifelong rugby fan, it is such a great privilege to be selected as the Official IT Partner for Gloucester Rugby. We are looking forward to supporting the staff that make the success of the team on the pitch possible. The First Solution Technologies team worked hard in what was a very competitive process and winning is always a pleasure.” Nigel Church First Solution’s Managing Director and Old Pats Business Club Manager

First Solution will be managing Gloucester Rugby’s internal IT Infrastructure and ensuring they are protected from cybercrime.

“In this day and age, no organisation can flourish without first-class IT Services and the reassurance that state of the art Cyber Security services provides. First Solution will manage those aspects of our business for us. We’re delighted to welcome them on board and are looking forward to working with them. Adam Benson Gloucester Rugby’s Chief Commercial Officer

“We feel that the core values of both our organisations are well aligned and we are very excited by the opportunities that this relationship creates for both businesses.” Paul Hills, First Solution’s Sales Director

This announcement, alongside their continued sponsorship of Old Pats, confirms First Solution as a big supporter of local rugby in the Gloucestershire region.

‘We are a business with national capabilities but we are a Gloucestershire business first and foremost. We believe in the power that rugby has to bring communities together, especially in the rugby hotbed of Gloucestershire. Therefore we are delighted to be working with such respected and well known clubs in Gloucester Rugby and Old Pats.” Nigel Church

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U16 Welcome

2018-19 U15's Head Coach Eddie

Welcome from Team Manager James Godden 

On nearing the end of our junior journey with Old Pats we are relishing the challenges that await this season. With GCSE demands as well as the physical demands of school rugby and academy rugby, there will be inevitable issues with attendance and availability.

As a coaching team, we will continue to provide stimulating sessions that challenge the boys which will include a bigger push for them to show more leadership and ownership during practices.

We will now be training and playing at Bournside School with hopefully around 50 boys still in the squad.

Our fixture list will be strong and challenging with opportunities for all players to receive sufficient challenge

We will continue to adopt the ‘half game’ ethos which we’ve had in place since u10.

We are lucky to have such a great group of boys to work with. By their commitment to Old Pats, the boys show that they are happy to be guided by our dedicated team of seven (magnificent*) coaches who have all been terrific role models for the lads.

*pun intended

Allez les Pats

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Nutrition with Rachel Cappuccini


Food for Sport

Keeping our hungry teens fuelled is one thing, keeping them fuelled with the right foods alongside a rigorous sports schedule is trickier. Here are a few tips I have gleaned both as a mother of two sporty boys and a career in food nutrition in various capacities. I also picked up a lot from my eldest son’s period at Gloucester Rugby and England Rugby Camps where nutrition played an impressively vital role.

There are 3 key ‘ingredients’ to healthy eating for sport:

Rachel Cappuccini


What do our rugby boys need in their early teens? Getting the basics right now will develop good practice moving forward. There is no need for supplements at this age either in the form of protein powders or nutrients. But rather ensure:

  • Ideally 3-3,500 calories per day over 4-5 meals/snacks.
  • Healthy carbs in the form of a varied diet such as vegetables, fruits, whole wheat pasta and rice, lean meats. Ideally at least half the calorie intake should come from carbohydrates.
  • Healthy fats from foods such as fish and nuts
  • Ensure sufficient Iron and calcium which support growth
  • Sufficient protein from animal and plants, and a good balanced diet will provide the 50g needed daily for muscle development and repair at this age. Ideally they should be aiming to match body weight in ‘kg’ with protein in ‘g’ for example if they weigh 80kg aim for 80g of protein daily.  As they reach 16+ England Rugby nutritionists recommended doubling the body weight in protein intake!
  • A good start, as we have less control on what they eat during school hours, I have always been a strong believer in a hearty breakfast, healthy snacks when they come home from school followed by supper.
Healthy Breakfast 2

The Hearty Breakfast

I spent many years working for Kellogg’s and reading endless research papers on the importance of breakfast. Ironically the salty sugary cereals produced by Kellogg’s back then are definitely not recommended! So many times I hear parents saying they don’t have time to do breakfast but here are a few speedy ideas:

  • Wholewheat toast with peanut butter (low salt/sugar) and sliced banana, drizzle honey
  • Ham and Cheese Omelette
  • Greek Yoghurt, berries, nut granola, banana
  • Oat Smoothie – whizz up oats, milk of your choice, half an avo or handful of spinach, half banana, handful of frozen berries, 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • Old School Porridge, again with milk of your choice
  • Leftovers! The nutritionists at Gloucester Rugby encouraged the boys to eat leftovers for breakfast rather than a bowl of cereal. I regularly re-heat potatoes and meat and add a poached egg or baked beans!

My Oat Protein Pancakes take 5 minutes to whizz up in a blender and can be cooked in even less time. Happy to share the recipe, just ask.


  • Rest and sleep are as essential as food. Our growing teens need at least 9 hours sleep a night.
  • Protein again plays a vital role post training and games. A protein-based smoothie or milkshake is a quick easy way to achieve this.
  • Snacking should be nutritious not a quick sugar fix: bowl of low sugar cereal and milk; oatcakes and cheese; oat-cakes, yogurt, dried fruit, nuts, home-made oat and peanut butter cookies or flapjacks and rice cakes and hummus.
  • Be wary of re-fuel drinks which are often overloaded with sugars and frankly unnecessary; isotonic drinks are also unnecessary at this age, but home made ones will not only save you money but you can lessen the salt and sugar levels.
  • There is no evidence to suggest that sports supplements are beneficial for teenagers and they have not been tested on this age group. Indeed, better to focus on eating enough to meet growth and energy needs and planning training and recovery properly.


Ideally our teens should be drinking 6-8 glasses of fluid a day, the best sources of which are water and milk. “Drinking water impacts virtually every aspect of sports performance: it increases energy, improves movement, recovery and agility, thermoreguarlation and aids in mental clarity thus reducing risk of injuries”**

Semi/Skimmed milk is a great way to hydrate, indeed some reports confirm better than water as it contains sodium, carbohydrate and protein which further improve hydration.

Again, the Gloucester Academy coaches actively discouraged all carbonated drinks and sports drinks at this age

** Noel Williams, registered dietitian and specialist in sports dietetics

When is the best time to eat before training or a game?

Ideally about 2 hours before – especially if your teen is a good breakfast eater. If not and they need to eat closer to the game, bananas are the near perfect choice for a light, pre-workout boost, as are avocados (if you have managed to get them on avo on toast yet – if not, smuggle one into a smoothie). Don’t forget to get them sipping away at the water!

And after the game?

Within the next 30 minutes, a good protein recovery source is ideal. Again, a home-made smoothie with peanut butter, chicken sandwich, couple of boiled eggs, yogurt drink, milk shake etc. Followed by a high calorie meal later on.


Teenagers – Fuel Your Body

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2019-20 season welcome from Junior Chairman

Alistair Armstrong Old Patesians RFC Junior Chairman

Welcome to the 2019-20 Old Patesians RFC Junior Newsletter

You will notice that the newsletter has now gone totally online! This is not only more environmentally friendly but allows us to circulate and promote the club to a far wider audience than before. Help us to spread the word – please do forward this on to friends, grandparents and anyone else you think might be interested in our news.

We are delighted to continue to see the Junior section grow, with over 340 players now involved between the Under 9s and the Colts. Last season they played hundreds of matches, and the players represent Old Pats with pride and passion each time they cross the whitewash. They are an absolute credit to their coaches and to the club.

While we have an extremely talented pool of players in all age groups, we measure our success on far more than victories on the pitch. We are proud that we also help to develop the boys as good citizens, instilling such values as teamwork, sportsmanship and inclusivity.

Off the pitch

Almost every age group manages to provide an end of season tour. This sees hundreds of our boys travel away in their age groups for the weekend to celebrate the end of their season. Typically, they involve themselves in things like paintballing, laser tag, canoeing and zip wiring. Oh, and rugby. This year was no different with age groups travelling to Devon, Weston Super Mare and London, to name but a few. As I’m sure you appreciate, these tours involve months of planning by our volunteers to ensure that the boys have a positive experience in a safe environment.

We have seen further off-field successes with the popular Christmas Club Day, one of the rare occasions that the players are all together in the same place playing rugby. We will repeat this again on Sunday 15th December. We also run the Summer Club Day, which is a chance for parents, players and friends of the club to gather in the sunshine and have fun in a variety of activities outside the clubhouse.

Without doubt, the major social event of the year is the Junior Summer Ball. This year, we saw the highest attendance since we started over five years ago. We had 189 parents and friends of the club attend the event at the Princess Elizabeth Hall, Cheltenham Ladies College. The ball was a fantastic evening with great live music, the now traditional game of heads and tails, and a rugby ball bucking bronco! The Summer Ball raises valuable funds for the Juniors and we are very grateful to all those who support it.

The new season 

Looking forward to this season, in November, we will once again welcome the new U9s into the club. Tag Trojans do a great job in developing our young players before the club take over and start them on their journey through the Junior section. I look forward to seeing and hearing about their progress.

We will have the younger age groups sending numerous teams to the County Festivals supported by enthusiastic parents and friends. Although the older age groups do not have a formal County Cup, they will continue to play to a very high standard against local clubs from September to May.

Lots of thank yous

I am very grateful to our partners in the community who assist us with the challenge of the provision of sufficient pitch space to host so many players and matches. In particular, Balcarras School, Bournside School, Cheltenham College, St Edwards and the University of Gloucestershire. Without their continued support we would not be able to deliver the excellent service we provide to our players.

There is also a core team of people, without who we would not be able to achieve everything we do here at Old Pats.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to:

  • the 75 coaches we have across the age groups (giving their time both on and off the field);
  • the off-pitch volunteers proving key roles such as safeguarding, finance, marketing and those who put this newsletter together; and
  • the Summer Ball committee who put in months of work to organise every aspect of such a fantastic fundraising evening.

Your support

Finally, you may have noticed that there is a theme running through my message: everything we do is 100% reliant on volunteers to perform various and important roles.

I am grateful to all those parents and friends of the club who help. It takes a significant amount of their time to run a club with over 340 players and 700 parents.

However, our volunteers number very few and we are always in need of further assistance. Please don’t sit back and think that someone else will do it, we always need new parents to come forward and help.

Here’s to another great season of rugby.

Alistair Armstrong Old Pats Junior Chairman
 Alistair Armstrong – Junior Chairman