Former Fylde RFC coach hopes Lancashire can set up a Twickenham date

Mark Nelson       Picture: Chris FarrowMark Nelson       Picture: Chris Farrow
Mark Nelson Picture: Chris Farrow
Lancashire’s rugby union team aim to return to familiar territory at Twickenham in three weeks but must break new ground in order to do so.

The Red Rose County have contested the final of the County Championship at English rugby headquarters in nine of the last 10 years, lifting the Bill Beaumont Cup on seven of those occasions.

First Mark Nelson’s Lancashire side make their first trips to Sunderland RUFC tomorrow to face Durham and then to Cambridge RU the following Saturday to meet Eastern Counties.

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May 18 brings a more traditional county battle as Lancashire and Yorkshire resume Roses hostilities in the north group decider – and they do so at Fylde’s Woodlands home for the first time in several years.

Fylde as usual provide the largest contingent among 10 clubs represented in the Lancashire squad. Eleven of the extended group of 38 ply their trade at the Woodlands.

Fylde head coach Warren Spragg again serves as backs coach, while Woodlands stalwart Martin Scott takes charge of the forward.

Head coach Nelson, the former Fylde coach, said: “Each of our opponents have National One clubs to select from, so we can expect to face very strong teams. Our training sessions have been very positive, with high energy.

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“Everyone involved, both playing and management, buy into the mantra of leaving club kit bags at the door and becoming ‘Team Lancashire’ for the duration of the campaign.

“We are reigning champions but I never consider that a factor. Each new tournament has to be taken on its own merits and we have a tough road ahead, but there is a lot of talent, experience and confidence within the group.”

Cheshire and Northumberland complete the group but do not face Lancashire.

The final on May 26 shares the Twickenham stage with the HSBC London Sevens.

Nelson reports that the county scene is thriving.

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He added: “The Under-20s take on Yorkshire in their final at Twickenham this Sunday, the Lancashire Royals travel to Eastern Counties to play their counterparts before the senior match and Lancashire Women begin their Gill Burns Cup tournament this weekend.

“Allied to age group teams playing across the season, this shows the strength and popularity for the county game at all levels, something the RFU should pay strong attention to when making budgetary and structural decisions.”