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“It’s been a really good year” Old Patesians Sam Rhymes reflects on the season

This past year saw local Gloucestershire rugby team Old Patesians embark on a new journey as they made the bold decision to drop down three leagues. The Cheltenham based side went from playing in Regional 2 Tribute Southwest, which is the second highest league in the southwest and two leagues below the national leagues, to playing in Counties 3 Tribute Gloucestershire North which is about five leagues below the national leagues.  

This was a massive drop in quality for the former level six team however, they were forced to make this rather uncommon decision due to a few factors. After a woeful season last year, where they ultimately turned into the whipping boys of the league conceding 849 points over the season, things only got worse for the struggling club as they had a number of players leave as well as a few untimely retirements.  

Scrum-half Sam Rhymes shared his thoughts: 

“It was a difficult start because we sort of got self-relegated down three levels and a lot of people were sort of against that decision, but I think as a playing group and a coaching group everyone was pretty confident it was the right decision and we backed ourselves and our ability that it was the right thing to do and obviously our season has proven it was the correct thing to do.  

“We’ve had a brilliant year, winning the league on the last week of the season and then going away to the StoneX for the Papa John’s National Cup final was obviously pretty, pretty cool as well. So yeah, it’s been a really good year”.  

A lot of teams were praying on the Old Pats downfall as they saw the move down to the lower leagues as a cop-out, however against all the odds and the critics the team never let their focus waver and as a result they reaped their rewards by winning the league and the District Cup. Unfortunately, they did fall short in their National Cup final, however the loss was softened due their other achievements. 

Rhymes was also intent on praising the coaches as well as the increased involvement of the Senior Colts joining the first team environment: 

“A lot of people, more specifically a lot of young lads from the colts who turned 18 have got involved and it’s been a really good and really enjoyable season. Even though we weren’t playing at the highest standard adult rugby is still a big leap from colts’ level and they more than stood up to the task.  I’d also have to give massive credit to the two coaches, Smithy and Downsey who made the right choice to move down. It’s been a great year for everyone”. 

The Old Patesians will be preparing for the incoming season in about a month with their pre-season period which will hopefully prepare them for a new season in a new and higher league: Counties 2 Tribute Gloucestershire North. It’ll be interesting to see if they can bring this season momentum into the next years. 

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