Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club stronger than ever for 90th anniversary year

Tim Mann in action for Bury St Edmunds last season. Photo: Lucy Taylor

Tim Mann in action for Bury St Edmunds last season. Photo: Lucy Taylor

Bury St Edmunds boss Gavin Hogg believes he has assembled his best squad yet as the Suffolk club look to continue their exciting rise up English rugby union’s league pyramid in the club’s 90th anniversary year.

The Wolfpack have already won four promotions this century and their progress shows no sign of slowing down after an impressive debut campaign in National Two South.

A seventh-place finish at step four level ended on a high as a bumper crowd at The Haberden witnessed a thrilling victory over league leaders and regional rivals Cambridge.

Hogg (director of rugby), Mike Robinson (chairman) and Terry Sands (performance director) have once again worked tirelessly over the summer to attract exciting new recruits to their ambitious project.

Experienced former Osprey’s prop Cai Griffiths, 32, is a major coup and the Welshman will combine playing with coaching the forwards.

Other key signings are utility back Liam McBride, who has been playing for Taranaki in New Zealand, and back row Darren Gillespie, a Scotland 7s international.

“Probably the most exciting thing for me is that 90% of the guys are returning from last season,” said Hogg. “They all went through the learning experience of last season and now know what is required at this level.

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“We’ve added a few new faces to the squad as well to freshen things up, provide a little bit more competition for places and hopefully help us improve our league position.

“Cai Griffiths, Darren Gillespie and Liam McBride will provide key experience and leadership to a young group of players. Paul Hamber (Plymouth), Arthur Marini (Colomiers U23) and Irish pairing Ross Bailey and Michael Mellett will bring a new energy to the squad and are exciting young players to complement what we already have in place.

“It is also pleasing to see Luke Beales return to rugby and be joined by Wymondham-based player Harry Anderson-Brown, Norwich-based Andreas Robertson and to welcome Harry Gooderham back to the club after completing his studies at the University of Gloucester.

“The first-team squad is still around 40 players, but we have better like-for-like replacements now.”

With the club having recently launched a new senior academy, Hogg added: “I’m really excited to get started again in July. This time last year we put together pretty much a whole new side for our first season in National Two and that meant there was a lot of work that we needed to do in pre-season on patterns of play.

“This summer we are a few stages further in the process of preparing for the season.”