PREMIERSHIP RUGBY CUP – INTRODUCING AMPTHILL RUGBY

TEN THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT OUR PRC OPPONENTS…

  1. Rugby in Ampthill can be traced back as far as 1881. Reformed after WWII in 1950 the current club, Ampthill & District Community Rugby Union Football Club Ltd, was incorporated in 1959 as a company limited by guarantee. 
  1. The club bought the first three acres of its current home in 1958 from local farmer A J Woodward for the sum of £300. 
  1. When it comes to developing young players, Ampthill has blazed a trail among English rugby clubs. The club’s mini & youth section was started in 1971, sometime before the concept was adopted by the RFU, by the current President David Williams who was asked by the local cub scout master if he could organise rugby training so that the pack members could obtain their ‘Sports’ badge.  
  1. The club introduced more than 450 US servicemen to rugby during the 1970s & 80s. Mostly stationed at RAF Chicksands, some would arrive by air transport on a Thursday and play their first game on the Saturday! Eventually there were enough players to form an ‘extra’ team, a name that lives on in the current 3rd XV. 
  1. In the 1950s, the club almost went out of existence because of a lack of players, but now they have six senior sides. 
  1. Ampthill’s nickname is ‘The Mob’. 
  1. England hooker Theo Dan broke into the Saracens set-up last season, but he started the campaign at Ampthill. 
  1. Other notable former players include Northampton stars fly-half Fin Smith, England flanker Ben Earl, former Sharks prop James Flynn and Wales World Cup squad member Sam Costelow. 
  1. Director of Rugby Mark Lavery’s love affair with the club goes back 20 years. He started coaching in the Mini & Youth and under his direction the 1stXV has achieved four promotions in 11 seasons, now plays at the highest level in Ampthill’s history and has won three East Midland Senior Cups. 
  1. The club has around 200 adult and more than 400 mini & youth registered players and Premiership stalwarts Josh Bassett and Lewis Ludlow both picked up a rugby ball for the first time as an Ampthill junior. 

KEY MEN TO WATCH…. 

Morgan Strong  

Former Ospreys No 8 Morgan Strong was named as Ampthill captain for the 2023/24 season. The former Wales U19 international spent some time in the centre in his younger days before establishing himself in the back row with Tondu RFC and Bridgend College. 

A powerful carrier who displays maturity beyond his years regarding game understanding, Strong made 29 tackles in his first game for Wales U20 against Italy in the opening round of the 2020 Six Nations, to sit alongside Ireland’s James Ryan who achieved the same number against Scotland in 2016, as the leading tackler from any game in the championship. 

He follows in the footsteps of his father Nathan, who was a fans’ favourite at Bridgend and Pontypridd during an illustrious club career. 

Strong was Ampthill’s top try-scorer last season and his consistent performances earnt him a place in the Championship Team of the Season. 

Paul Turner 

Sale Sharks fans might remember Ampthill Head Coach Paul Turner from a spell coaching at the club in the 90s. 

His playing career included spells at Newbridge, Newport, Pontypool, Bedford and Sale, where he dazzled with his skills and tactical genius, accumulating hundreds of points along the way, kicking goals with both feet for good measure. 

He won three caps for Wales, all of them in 1989, including the 12-9 victory over England at a rain-soaked national stadium which denied the old enemy the Five Nations title. 

After moving into coaching, he worked for Sharks, Bedford, Saracens, Gloucester and Harlequins, before returning to Wales in 2005 to take up a job with the Dragons. 

He joined Ampthill as Head Coach in 2011. 

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