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

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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.

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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.

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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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U9’s show off new junior shirts in their first match

The Old Pats U9s competed in their first matches on Sunday against Stroud U9S and Longlevens U9s. Before the matches commenced each boy was presented individually with his new Old Pats Shirt in front of a huge contingency of parents who had come to support them during the morning. 35 shirts were presented to the boys which shows a real healthy number which will hopefully continue to grow over the coming weeks. A very proud moment not just for the boys but also the coaches and parents.

Our u9s were split into 3 equal ability squads and played 6 short matches each against 2 sides who have been playing contact rugby much longer then our squads. Our boys more then matched our more experienced opposition and showed off all the skills they have learnt over the last couple of months. Some brilliant tries and fantastic teamwork were displayed along with some fierce but fair tackles and every single boy put 100% into their games throughout the morning. A big thanks must go to both Stroud and Longlevens for their participation and for their comments regarding the organisation and commitment of our boys. We look forward to seeing them later in the season.

The morning was rounded off with Hotdogs and squash for all players and coaches and we march on to our next match against Banbury on the 19th January

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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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2019 Christmas Club Sunday Wet, Muddy and Great Fun

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This weekend saw the last training session before Christmas which, in keeping with tradition, took place at Everest Road for all age groups from U9 to U15’s. All the teams were well represented with a total of over 250 children involved.

The range in age and size meant that some creative thinking from the coaches was required to supply skill stations suitable for all. Happily, our experienced operators did not disappoint and four non-contact activities were designed to develop specific skills from agility to communication and fitness.

With the weather Gods not smiling on us and the cold rain lashing down, the coaches showed all their motivational skills to keep the players warm and having fun. When the sun finally came out, we had turned the lower field into a hippo’s playground and a few washing machines were going to get a workout. However, the junior section had trained together as a united group and were further bonded by Matt Dawson – head coach of the U12’s, veteran Old Pat and hugely experienced teacher who, after some inspirational words, led a soggy but enthusiastic huddle.

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The players were whisked away at the end to warm baths and the coaches of all age groups made use of the catering facilities where many ideas were exchanged whilst we dried out.

With so many juniors spread out around Cheltenham on our match days, the Club Sunday is a rare and important chance for the players to feel part of a larger whole and those involved in the running of the junior section to meet, mingle and share our experience.

A very big thank you to Andrea Mason (U10 and U14 mum) and colleagues for organising such an important event in the Club calendar and for manning the Club Mug stall. (Don’t forget to buy an Old Pats mug for Christmas from HERE)

Matches resume in early January but for now, have a very merry Christmas

Tom Perris

Tom Perris U14 Coach

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The 2019-20 junior welcome newsletter

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The 2019-20 Welcome Newsletter is Here!

After several months in the making – with contributions from all age group team managers and many others – we’ve finally ‘gone to press’ or rather ‘gone digital’ with our 2019-20 Newsletter.

No longer do you have to view or download a PDF version, it’s now online in our magazine website (to view see link below)

The 2019-20 edition includes welcome messages from the Chairman and team managers, as well as the latest news and events and key info including nutrition for sport.

Special Offers

We have also some great deals for you including:

  • a fantastic Old Pats Wine Club offer from club sponsors, Vinotopia of Tetbury;
  • FREE entry to an ‘exclusive, invite-only, shopping experience’ at John Lewis in Cheltenham which includes arrival drinks and canapes, and events throughout the evening;
  • and, by popular demand, as well as Old Pats bobble hats we now sell Old Pats mugs that come boxed, so are easy to wrap and will make perfect the Christmas present

I would like to add a special thanks to Elaine Warwicker and Laurence Hale who have worked patiently and tirelessly to piece together this fantastic Newsletter. This would not happen without their hard work.

On behalf of all the officials at Old Pats, we hope you have a fun-filled run up to Christmas, and a very happy Christmas and New Year!

Click here to view 2019-20 Newsletter

Alistair Armstrong


Juniors Chairman