The growing disparity in league status between the West Midlands’ leading rugby clubs has made setting the parameters for this year’s Birmingham Post Midlands XV a difficult exercise.
With Worcester’s full-time players in the Premiership, Moseley’s semi-professionals in the Championship and the semi-semi-professionals of Birmingham & Solihull, Stourbridge and Coventry in National One, it has been difficult to cross reference performances.
To make the exercise worthwhile therefore, I have little option but to utilise the critical mass at level three and draw my selection from Bees, Stour and Cov. I have, however, also selected my preferred Moseley XV and marked with an asterisk a handful of National League players with the potential to play in their Championship side.
The usual, amorphous criterion apply, these are not necessarily the best players just ones I have enjoyed watching and writing about during the 2011-12 campaign. The only stipulation I have made is that players must have made at least ten appearances. Moseley’s supremely gifted Glyn Hughes is the only exception with eight beauties.
The National One side is largely made up of Coventry and Bees players given the fact there were periods this season when those teams actually developed some consistency. That said the easiest selection belonged to Stourbridge, the clinical finishing of Nathan Bressington has been impossible to ignore.
Full-back boiled down to a straight choice between Ben Russell and Jon Lowden and I went for the latter for his lines of running and versatility.
As mentioned, with 17 tries Bressington waltzed in and I have no doubt he could still hack it at with his former Moseley team-mates at level two. I have chosen Coventry’s ever-willing youngster Heath Stevens as his wing partner.
Cov’s Luke Myring proved himself such a talismanic figure in his first season he takes the No.12 shirt and I’ve gone for Ben Barkley outside him. Square peg, round hole perhaps. With apologies to those at Stourton Park my half-back pairing is Mark Woodrow and Lewis Barker, the latter having been outstanding having made the step up.
In the front row I’ve gone for Sean McArthy, Liam Wordley and Adam Parkins with Tom Quarrie and Ben Hughes in the boilerhouse. Cov’s Brett Daynes and Matt Tibbatts make the back row as does the peerless Jack Preece who deserves a chance of full-time rugby but at openside. Preece is my captain.
POST XV: Lowden (Bees); N Bressington (Stour)*, Barkley (Stour), Myring (Cov)*, Stevens (Cov); Woodrow (Bees), Barker (Cov); McArthy (Bees)*, Wordley (Stour), Parkins (Cov)*, Quarrie (Bees), Hughes (Stour), Daynes (Cov), Preece (Bees)*, Tibbatts (Cov)*
MOSELEY XV: Thomas; Robinson, King, Reay, Hunt; Hughes, Glynn; Warren, Caves, Voisey, Lyons, Sanderson, Mason, Ellery, Pennycook