Bedford friendly up first for OAs

PUBLISHED: 09:16 12 August 2014 | UPDATED: 09:16 12 August 2014

Jordi Pasqualin has joined OAs from London Scottish. Picture: London Scottish

Jordi Pasqualin has joined OAs from London Scottish. Picture: London Scottish

Ray Willmott@Foto-Graffic

Old Albanian’s pre-season training has been growing in intensity for the past two months and reaches a crescendo on Friday when Andy Holloway’s charges take on Bedford Blues at Goldington Road, kick-off 7.45pm.

This first ‘warm-up’ game may well be the toughest challenge OAs face in the entire season to come as the Championship side will surely pull no punches in their preparation for the new campaign.

Holloway is insistent there could be no better blooding for his players who are all delighted to be starting this third year in National One with a glimpse at a more senior setup. Without doubt some will be getting more than a glimpse as Bedford, under veteran coach Mike Rayer, look to improve on last year’s nine league position.

OA’s preparations have been helped by the fact that the majority of last year’s players are returning to the fray and there have been significant moves to strenghthen an already impressive cast of characters.

There will be real pressure for the scrum half berth as Jordi Pasqualin, Jack Daly and Nick Foster vie for the number nine shirt. Pasqualin has the widest experience of the three having featured in both the Championship and Premiership.

Will Magie, an U20 cap for the USA, will make a telling presence at fly half and he will be ably assisted by Elliott Reeder at inside centre. In the pack Charlie Hughes makes a welcome return from his trip to Australia.

The vast experience of the remainder of the squad will range alongside the newcomers who have some interesting challenges in the months ahead.

Four sides join National One this year, all of whom have crossed swords with OAs before. Ealing return from the Championship certainly the wiser for the experience, however brief. Macclesfield return after enduring a salutary drop for the past two seasons. Hartpury College and Darlington Mowden Park both step up a level. Hartpury will savour the opportunity of facing Loughborough and Darlington’s promotion means there will now be three trips to the North East for the OA faithful.

The finishing touches are being put to all arrangements for this new year. Training for senior men takes place on Tuesdays and Thursdays and the senior ladies on Mondays and Wednesdays, 7pm at the club.

Registration for the mighty mini/junior section takes place in early September. For more informaiton, call 01727 864476.

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