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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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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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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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2019 Christmas Club Sunday Wet, Muddy and Great Fun


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.


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


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

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Pre 2019-20 season update

Old Pats RFC Club House

Almost a month in, here’s how it has gone

By Connor Thompson – Club Captain

With pre-season almost a month in, we asked 1st XV Captain George Angell and Head Coach Chris Downes on their thoughts so far.

George Angell

Reflection on the first 3/4 weeks of pre-season?

Tough. Been great to have ball in hand so much. With a clear aim on improving catch/pass and decision making under fatigue, the sessions have seen good improvements across all players skill sets. The fitness blocks have certainly ensured we are under fatigue too!

Best bits of training?

Conditioned games. It’s a long old season and being able to get the ball in hand with a free pass to express ourselves can be frustrating but when it goes right is so enjoyable.

Lots of Colts joining in – how have they settled in?

Colts have driven standards in a lot of ways. Some of their skill sets have put ours to shame at times! On the other hand they are new to the adult way of rugby and it pushes a lot of senior players to work with those younger boys. It builds a great atmosphere across the teams and age groups. There will definitely be some of those younger lads wearing a 1st XV Jersey in the near future.

How do you feel Chris and Ben have started?

Downesy is no stranger to the club and although he is hugely invested in UOG rugby there’s a real sense that Pats is home for him. Smithy has shown why his full time job is in rugby – attention to detail in the basics of rugby are something a lot of adult players aren’t interested in but he really drives them home. The pair work well together – opposites clearly attract in this case. The boys are really invested in what is being delivered week on week and you cannot fault the passion they show for the cause! Of course Safy being around for the time being is another great asset to the coaching team.

Aim for the next 3/4 weeks?

Personally I think the aim is to incorporate more structure and nail the set piece whilst improving catch/pass even more. With 3 tough pre season games everyone needs to know their role and the next few weeks will be a key time to implement this. The coaches have a clear way which they want us to play and if we can get it right I think we will be one of those teams who looks dangerous every time they touch the ball. I hate playing those sides so it would be great to be one!

Chris Downes

First impressions of The start of pre-season?

Really enjoyable, the guys have worked hard and there have been plenty of smiles so first impressions have been really positive! Happy players are much more open to new ways of doing things and thinking, that makes it a lot easier for us as coaches!

Reflection on the first 3/4 weeks of pre-season?

That we’ve got some really talented players! The core skills are improving already and we can also see real improvements in game awareness and understanding which is great. The boys have taken well to our new coaching team and have made it really welcoming too.

Best bits of training?

The first postcode training up on top of Leckhampton Hill was excellent. The boys worked well in teams to solve puzzles and riddles under fatigue and it was nice to surprise them with a BBQ when they got back to the bottom!

Lots of Colts joining in – how have they settled in?

It’s been great to have the younger guys in and around the senior squad. It’s good for their development and it also keeps the older guys on their toes! It’s important that we create a culture that these guys want to come back to the club when they move away to uni etc and pre-season is a great time to do that.

Aim for the next 3/4 weeks?

Aim is to keep improving the keys skills and game sense. We will naturally start to look at the key components of how we’ll play. We could have the best game plan in the world but if our basics aren’t good enough then it’s irrelevant! We’ve got a couple of decent postcode training sessions up our sleeves too which will be fun!

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End of 2018-19 season awards

End of 2019-19 Awards

So who won what awards

By Connor Thompson – Club Captain

The End of Season Awards took place on Friday 17th May and gave chance to celebrate individuals for their performances throughout the season.

Here is who won what

Players’ Player – George Angell
1st XV Player of the Year – George Angell
2nd XV Player of the Year – James Malvern-White
Gents’ Player of the Year – Pete Woodall
Most Improved Player of the Year – Joe Hart
Young Player of the Year – Tom Knight 
Top Try Scorer – Rich Hance
Ron Johnson Award (For the most memorable moment in the season) – James Aherne (For his 55m penalty against Camborne)
1st XV Colours – Bryce White and Rich Hance
Clubman of the Year – Norman Bell

Well done to all the winners!

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Two new coaches for Old Pats

Chris Downes and Ben Smith

Chris Downes will be taking up the Head Coach’s role and Ben Smith will join as Senior Coach next season.

Downes, the former Pats and Ebbw Vale man, capped for England Schoolboys, has long been Director of Rugby at the University of Gloucestershire and the County. He will retain both roles. Smith, the RFU’s Community Rugby Coach (CRC) for Gloucestershire, has worked with Downes at the University and the pair offer an established, successful coaching partnership.

Downes said: “It’s great to be back at the Pats, I’ve loved this club since I began playing here as a boy, had my happiest memories in the magenta, blue and white and I finished my playing career at the bottom of the slope at Everest Road. To be appointed Head Coach is an honour for me and I hope I can bring the success I know the club deserves.”

Old Pats are currently bottom of the South West Premier League having had as many as 29 of their registered playing squad unavailable for selection at times since Christmas. Survival is still possible with five matches remaining and the current coaches will continue for all of them.

Smith added: “Pats have always been one of the leading clubs in the county and the brand of rugby they play is great. The injured players are now coming back to fitness and with a good summer ahead of us, things look good for the 2019-20 campaign.

Matt Cape, OPRFC Chair, said “We’re delighted to have secured these two talented young coaches for the Pats. They’ve worked together to great success at the University and they’re very well established figures at county level and beyond. It’s also really nice that a lad, who played for the juniors, played for his country, our 1st XV and higher, then returns to coach the club.”

Gethin Evans

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School Liaison Officer Wanted

School Liaison Officer Wanted

The Old Patesians Juniors are seeking a volunteer to work as the Schools Liaison Officer for the Junior Section. The club currently have approximately 360 junior players involved in age groups from the U9’s to Colts (17/18yrs old). Our players attend numerous Junior and Secondary schools in the Cheltenham area.

The role will involve working with the schools to provide a single point of contact within the club who the school can liaise with over a number of matters, from recruitment of players, joint ventures between club and schools, provision of coaching assistance at schools and even loaning of equipment if needed to get children playing rugby. The post would also be a point of contact between school and club if there were injury concerns. The role will also involve working the club’s Safeguarding team.

Initially we will pilot the role across a couple of schools in Cheltenham. We will provide DBS vetting and any required RFU courses such as Play it Safe and Safeguarding.

If you are interested in this role or would like to discuss it further please contact via our contact form

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President’s Welcome 2018

Club President's Welcome

It’s my pleasure to welcome players, coaches, officials, sponsors, supporters and opponents to the 2018-19 season. Our return to the South-West Premier Division gives us the opportunity to engage in some new rivalries and to re-new some old ones. We welcome all our visitors.

Last season was one of huge progress for us. The highlight was our 1st XV achieving promotion. This was hugely satisfying for our players, coaches and supporters, after coming so close the previous season. We pride ourselves on being an amateur club with a professional attitude; it’s great to see that pay off on and off the field.

We are one of the few clubs in the local area to field three senior XVs regularly. 36 players represented our 1st XV last season, showing the competition for places that exists at the elite level. No fewer than 85 players turned out for our 3rd XV, showing the opportunity that we provide for participation as a true community club. The success of our 4th/Veterans side in the Combination Minor Cup is proof of the depth that exists throughout the Club.

Our youth section continues to go from strength to strength, with over 350 juniors regularly playing contact rugby and 250 + children playing Tag rugby on a Sunday. The County Cup win by our Under 15s, final for our Under 16s and plate-final for our Colts demonstrate the effort and skill of the players and coaches.

We continue to provide the opportunity for players to advance to the highest level. We’re very proud that three of our players represented Gloucestershire at senior level and that we are strongly represented in the Gloucestershire Under 20s and the Gloucester Rugby Player Development Groups. Issac Marsh was selected in the England under 17’s squad which is a significant achievement. We are delighted that Will Safe, an ex-junior and now 1st XV skills coach, has signed a full-time professional contract with Gloucester, Jake Morris & Ewan Fenley have also been awarded Senior Academy contracts. It was fantastic to see 4 Old pats players representing Gloucester Rugby in the Premiership 7’s with all 4 playing in the plate final!

Lots of work has gone into preparing for the new season. This gives us great optimism. Let’s hope that the efforts of everyone involved are repaid by some successful and enjoyable rugby.

Let’s also recognise the hard work of those who contribute off the pitch: whether you’re a coach, touch judge, committee person, work behind the bar or in the kitchen, help our juniors or play a part in our social activities, your contribution is greatly valued.

Our players represent the Old Patesians with enthusiasm, effort and a great spirit. Please give them your whole-hearted support; and please come back to Everest Road regularly.

Allez les Pats!

Dick Tyler
President Old Patesians RFC