Worthing Raiders’ season assessed by Pierrepoint – as club welcome military veterans to big match

It’s a big day on Saturday for Worthing Raiders – and not just because they’re hosting Henley Hawks as they bid to claim away from the wrong end of the National two east.
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The Raiders are marking Remembrance Weekend by offering free entry for all military veterans and serving personnel.

Before the match the club will be holding a minute’s silence and laying a poppy wreath.

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The club’s under-14 and under-16 girls will be training pre-match with some of the Raiders coaching staff and will join some of the WRFC minis to form a guard of honour for the players.

Fred Pierrepoint, head coach of Worthing Raiders | Picture supplied by Worthing RFCFred Pierrepoint, head coach of Worthing Raiders | Picture supplied by Worthing RFC
Fred Pierrepoint, head coach of Worthing Raiders | Picture supplied by Worthing RFC

The Care for Veterans charity will be attending on the day promoting the work they do locally.

The club have offered some of the veterans they work with, and their carers, places at the pre-match meal.

To mark the Raiders’ special occasion we have been quizzing head coach Fred Pierrepoint about his rugby career, his work with the Raiders and how he sees this season going…

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Fred, tell us about your rugby career to date and explain how you ended up at Raiders

After graduating from Loughborough University, where I had three wonderful years studying and playing rugby, I signed for Championship side Pertemp Bees before returning to Loughborough in a player/coach capacity, taking up the role of Rugby Performance Programme Manager and Coach Development Officer.

With Loughborough being one of the first university programmes to enter the National Leagues, it allowed me to follow my passion in coaching whilst still being able to play National League 1 rugby.

After two-and-a-half years in that role, I left and moved south to continue playing and progress my coaching career.

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Whilst coaching at Harrow School I also combined this role with coaching the Senior Academy at Ealing Trailfinders and playing National League rugby at Henley Hawks (who we welcome on Saturday).

Winning National League 2 with a record five weeks remaining was a real highlight.

After retiring from rugby I moved into a full-time coaching job at an independent school, where I’m currently the Head of Rugby – that’s at Hurstpierpoint College, a very successful rugby school, where I’m also assisted by a number of the current Worthing Raiders squad.

Having coached with Jordan Turner-Hall and been a close friend of him, he invited me across to Raiders nearly three years ago when he was offered the Head Coach role here.

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When Jordan left at the end of last year to concentrate on his role at Quins, I was promoted to Head Coach.

What, at the start of the season, were the aims for the Raiders? Last season you finished well up the table but with a bit of a turnover of players, have sights been lowered, or do you still aim to be at or near the top at the seasons end?

Ultimately our goal was to improve – as individuals, as a coaching group and as a squad.

This was always going to be a transitional year with Jordan stepping away and a restructuring of the coaching group.

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I wouldn’t say there’s been a great deal of turnover in terms of players.

Some left to pursue other opportunities in coaching and playing, but we’ve retained the bulk of our squad from last season.

We have been considerably unlucky with injuries, unprecedented in fact and nothing I’ve seen before in my time.

We have been close to losing a marquee player in each game we’ve played so far this season, with a long term injury.

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That being said we have a very hungry and youthful squad that shirk no responsibility and meet every opportunity and challenge head on.

Our relationship with Harlequins remains very positive for both parties and we have a number of academy boys on our books this year.

Where we finish this year will ultimately depend on the fitness of our very strong squad and we aim to and believe we can win every game we play.

How do you rate the season so far? What are the team doing best and what needs most work?

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Having alluded to a number of difficulties above, the start we’ve had has reflected that.

There have been huge positives in all the fixtures we’ve played and the squad and our performances are only getting better.

Our last home fixture, vs Old Albanians, is an example of this, leading by 30+ points at half-time shows the rugby were capable of playing, when the squad is fit and well balanced.

We currently only sit five points of being in seventh position rather than 12th. It’s a very competitive league and we wouldn’t want it any other way.

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One standout player from the season so far? And one young player who you’ve really excited to see flourish over the next season or so?

I think our back row of Frank Taggart and Joe Knight have been outstanding. Nearly maximum minutes played, both leading by example and action as well as unity and cohesion amongst the squad. I’m very proud of the both of them.

I’m very excited about tnew signing Ed Grinsted from Clifton RFC, a young second row from Bristol Uni who shows great potential and who made his debut at Bury St Edmunds.

Bury St Edmunds 49 Worthing Raiders 12

National two east

by Colin Coulson

Raiders were competitive throughout the game but playing for 30 minutes with 14 players through three marginal yellow cards made life difficult.

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After the two-week break Raiders made five changes to the squad that had played against Old Albanian.

Jack Lake returned from injury to take over the captaincy in the absence of injured Jack Forrest. Ed Grinsted and Josh Bellamy made their debuts, Makeen Alikhan returned after a long absence and Grant Gatford returned was back.

Raiders kicked off and within moments Alikhan received a yellow card.

Although the home side had the bulk of possession early on, the visitors defended well.

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After 15 minutes the home side scored a converted try after an interception in their 22. Soon Cam Dobinson received a yellow card.

The game was evenly contested until Bury St Edmunds scored a second converted try to lead 14-0.

Raiders produced some good 15-man rugby and a thrust down the left by Harrison Sims came within a metre of the try line before being bundled into touch. HT 14-0

Raiders were rewarded with a try after an excellent steal at the home side’s lineout on their 22m line. With the conversion from Louis Ellis the gap closed to 14-7. But he home side took control and Raiders started to drop off first up tackles.

Josh Bellamy received a harsh yellow card before Raiders ended with an unconverted try by Cam Dobinson.


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