THE first weekend of September means the start of the rugby season, and as ever Launceston and Bude are gearing up for their league openers.
Launceston finished eighth in Regional One South West last year and have an awkward trip to Ivybridge to contend with (2.30pm).
The All Blacks were beaten by a solitary point at Cross-in-Hand back in February, but had won the previous three meetings between the pair, including a remarkable 59-33 away win back in January 2022.
Launceston have had an encouraging summer on the playing front with props Charlie Short and Greg Thomas coming in, while Dan Goldsmith is back on loan from Plymouth Albion to bolster the second row.
In the backs, summer signing Fraser Felton is missing, but exciting centre Cam Fogden is available and starts at 12 having returned from travelling.
There are several missing for various reasons though.
Front-rower Mitch Hawken is at a wedding, George Bone is injured and Ollie Bebbington and Charlie Tummon are away.
Former skipper Lloyd Duke turns out for the seconds as he builds his fitness up following a back issue.
However there are positives.
Youth products Jamie Chapman and Ben Bryant are both given first senior starts at outside-centre and full-back respectively, while Short starts at tighthead-prop in a power-packed front row alongside Ethan Pearce-Cowley and Levent Bulut.
New captain Tom Sandercock starts in his favoured scrum-half position alongside Glenn Coles who takes the all-important number ten shirt.
Ivybridge have a new head coach in former Plymouth Albion hooker Davy McGregor and will look to build on last season’s sixth-placed finish.
LAUNCESTON at Ivybridge: Ben Bryant, Archie Dinnis, Jamie Chapman, Cam Fogden, Dan Pearce, Glenn Coles, Tom Sandercock (capt); Ethan Pearce-Cowley, Levent Bulut, Charlie Short, Dan Goldsmith, Alex Bartlett, Leion Cole, Tom Bottoms, Brandon Rowley. Replacements: Billy Martin, Pete Bebbington, Adam Collings.
Other fixtures: Barnstaple v Weston-super-Mare, Brixham v St Austell, Chew Valley v Okehampton, Devonport Services v Matson, Exmouth v Lydney.
BUDE just about avoided a bottom two finish in Counties One Western West last time out, and have a new head coach in Joe Wilson.
He will work with Cornwall and Wellington head coach Graham Dawe who remains in a consultancy role at the club.
The Seasiders finished three points clear of second bottom Paignton, but no sides went down.
Tavistock and St Ives are promoted, and with Topsham and Cullompton going up and no sides dropping down, they should be better prepared to compete.
They start with their shortest away trip of the season as they head up the A39 to Bideford (3pm).
The North Devon side won ten of their 22 games to finish eighth, but will hope for much better this time around.
As ever, Bude’s home form will be key as nobody enjoys going to fortress Bencoolen Meadow.
Bude welcome back flying winger Zerran Hammond who missed the whole of last season.
Veterans Jason Bolt, Will Kingdon and Olly Mounce aren’t involved.
BUDE at Bideford: Will Pharo, Patrick Marks, Olly Denford, Ben Tharme, Zerran Hammond, Harry Dymond, Charlie Watton; Fraser Martyn, Rory Mead, Chris Allin, Nick Waterson, Ed Hilliam-Cooke, Luke Wilson, Ben Hancock, Freddie Saxton (capt). Replacements: Will Hockridge, Bertie Seggons, Rory Hodges.
Other fixtures: Falmouth v Tavistock, Kingsbridge v Wiveliscombe, Penryn v Tiverton, Plymstock Albion Oaks v Paignton, St Ives v Pirates Amateurs.
Counties Cornwall Three
BOTH Bude Seconds and Launceston Seconds head into the season looking to keep progressing after joining the league structure for the first time last summer.
Launceston finished fifth last time out as their mix of youth and more senior players won ten of their 18 games, and will be confident of better in the division which has been extended to 12 teams following the elections of Falmouth Seconds, Saltash Seconds and St Austell Thirds.
Hayle are the side to come down while Perranporth and St Just have moved up to Counties Cornwall Two.
As ever with a second team, much will depend on the availability of their ones.
They start at home to a St Agnes side that finished fourth last time out, and were in the title race until the final weeks.
Bude had a tougher time, winning just three of their 18 outings, but will hope for further improvement.
The club have built a decent-sized pool of players, and will need it with four extra league games.
They welcome a Roseland side that finished seventh to Bencoolen Meadow, and will back themselves to get off the mark.
Other fixtures: Camborne 2 v Redruth Albany, Lankelly-Fowey v Falmouth 2, St Austell 3 v Hayle, Wadebridge Camels 2 v Saltash 2.