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England rugby legend Alphonsi tips Breach for the top

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West Sussex rugby star Jess Breach has the world at her feet if her try-scoring exploits in the Women’s Six Nations are anything to go by, insists Red Rose legend Maggie Alphonsi.

The 21-year-old from Chichester, who was one of 28 players awarded full-time contracts for 2019 in January, is the top scorer in this year’s Championship with five tries from three games.

She opened her account in the victory over Ireland at Donnybrook before scoring a double in the wins against France and Wales to put England on course for the title and a Grand Slam.

And having also impressed for England Sevens last year, Alphonsi believes the Harlequins winger possesses the confidence in her own ability to take her to the very top of the game.

“Jess Breach is only 21, so she’s still young, but she acts wise beyond her years and is scoring lots of tries,” said Alphonsi, who was speaking on behalf of Land Rover during a HITZ session at The Rec to celebrate International Women’s Day.

“It helps she has experience around her. She previously would have played alongside the likes of Danielle Waterman and many other experienced backline players and that gives you confidence.

“She plays her club rugby at Harlequins so the former England Women’s coach Gary Street is there and that helps her, as she’s getting the knowledge and expertise there.

“But I kind of think to myself when I was 21 and got into the England squad I don’t remember being that confident or scoring that many tries – although I was a different position.

“When she plays she is incredibly confident and that’s great, you can’t coach confidence, it’s just something you have to build into your lifestyle and she’s got that now.

“She will be around for a long time. She’s come from sevens, so it’s good to see her in the 15s game, but the good thing is the world is her oyster.

“After the 15s World Cup she may go back to sevens, who knows, but she has got the talent and she is one of many others – Abigail Dow is another good one as well coming through.”

England opened up their campaign with a comfortable 51-7 victory against Ireland at Donnybrook in Dublin, before dispatching France 41-26 with seven tries at Castle Park.

A ruthless nine-try win against Wales in Cardiff moved them one step closer to the title, with only Italy and Scotland now standing in the way of a second Grand Slam triumph.

But Italy are only three points behind England in the table, having won two and drawn one, and Alphonsi expects the visitors to Sandy Park in Round Four to push the leaders all the way.

“The Italians will come out and they will be really up for this and if they can beat England then that would make their year, so they will throw everything at England,” she said.

“But I have just been really impressed with the way England have utilised a lot of their young players and how they have just stood up around some of those really experience players.

“I do think Italy will still push them, because Italy are currently sitting second in the table, and they beat Ireland which is absolutely huge for the Championship.

Breach is a wow against Wales
Another England game – another two tries for Breach
“I know what the Italians are like, similar to the French, they will play with a lot of ambition, they will come out and they will really push England to the edge really.

“Sometimes when I’ve seen Italy play they do score first, so England just have to make sure they start switched on and not ease themselves into the game.”

* Maggie Alphonsi is a Land Rover Ambassador. Land Rover is a key partner of HITZ, the sport for change programme that uses rugby to motivate young adults. Follow @LandRoverRugby

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Horsham Rugby Club gets 3 more years of support from sponsor

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Horsham Rugby Club has announced the renewal of its main sponsor for a further three years.

Sussex-based home builder Thakeham will display its distinctive black and white lion branding on new rugby shirts to be worn by the 1st XV, 2nd XV and every mini age group from under seven up to under 12.

Thakeham, with its head office in Billingshurst, has already been a sponsor at the club for a number of years. The construction group is one of the South East’s fastest growing developers.

Last year, Thakeham was acknowledged with a place in the ‘The Sunday Times Virgin Atlantic Fast Track 100’ list. This prestigious league table ranks Britain’s 100 fastest-growing companies over the last three years and is published in the Sunday Times each December.

| READ MORE: Horsham church celebrates 125th anniversary |

Thakeham is actively engaged with local charities and promotes opportunities for former armed forces veterans. Thakeham also sponsors other community sports teams including Billingshurst Cricket Club.

Robert Boughton, Thakeham group managing director, said: “As a regional home builder, we know all about the importance of thriving local communities. Sports teams play an important part in building and maintaining the fabric of those communities.

“That’s why we are so pleased to support Horsham Rugby Club and be the club’s main sponsor for the next three years.”

Horsham RUFC plays their home games at Coolhurst Ground, Hammerpond Road, Horsham, and currently has 400 playing members ranging from Under 7 to three Senior (adult) teams.

The 1st XV rugby team has won the Bob Rogers Sussex Cup six years in succession and secured promotion via a play-off to the highest level in the club’s history.

The 2019-20 season will see the 1st XV team play in London 1 South, the Lions 2nd XV cross county lines to play in the Surrey Premiership and the Barbarians 3rd XV play in Sussex 3.

Nick Stocker will continue as head coach assisted by Richard Bell, Adam Halsey and Johnny Porter.

Horsham Rugby Club’s vice-chairman and commercial manager Richard Ordidge said: “We are delighted to announce that Thakeham will remain as the main sponsor of Horsham Rugby Club for the next three years during a period of unrivalled success for the club.

“Sponsorship is vital to the club; it helps us fund the maintenance and improvement of our facilities, which is essential as we strive to run a successful and well thought of rugby club.

“We have a strong responsibility to our members and are keen to attract local talent of all ages.”

READ MORE: Horsham Sea Cadets move to new location

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Green and Whites lift Bob Rogers Cup for sixth time with victory over Hastings & Bexhill

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Horsham lifted the Bob Rogers Cup for a staggering sixth consecutive time on Saturday.

Despite a disjointed performance from Horsham against lower ranked league side Hastings & Bexhill, they eased to a 31-3 victory at East Grinstead.

Bob Rogers Cup Final - Apr 2019

Bob Rogers Cup Final – Apr 2019

The Green and Whites were able to rest several 1st XV regulars on the bench and they also had to deal with blustery conditions which didn’t help Horsham’s fluency with a much changed side.

Nevertheless, the victory was a comfortable one as they once again lifted the silverware which has very much become at home at Horsham.

Head coach Nick Stocker said: “The performance did not reach the heights that we have seen in recent weeks.

“After the emotional high of securing promotion two weeks ago, multiple changes and, more disappointingly, a possible touch of complacency meant we only managed to deliver a spluttering performance.

“In the face of a motivated Hastings & Bexhill side playing in their first Bob Rogers Cup final, we did not look after the ball enough, were not smart in the use of the ball and lacked some physicality at the breakdown and in the tackle.

“That said, on those occasions that we did look after the ball, and went through some phases, we scored good tries and ultimately this was the difference between both sides – our ability to convert opportunities presented.

“Regardless of the performance, it was a great way to end the season – securing the Bob Rogers Cup for a sixth successive time on top of promotion to London 1.

“With promotion, our first team will not be eligible to defend the trophy next season with the Lions now needing to step up to do the honours. If their performance at London Irish is anything to go by, they will surely do the club proud next year.”

Horsham led after three minutes when Aaron Linfield broke after a turnover ball and Mathieu Pecharman was in support to score, Joe Wilde, on kicking duties, added the extras.

Wilde then put over a penalty, before Bexhill & Hastings hit back with one of their own on 23 minutes.

Pecharman then finished off a multiple-phases move for a converted try and Jonny Whiting also scored before half-time to give Horsham a 19-3 lead.

Hastings missed two penalties at the start of the second half and Horsham rung the replacements before they scored again on 65 minutes through Josh Earle.

Jordan Bell then wrapped things up from a quick tap penalty with Wilde adding the extras.

Horsham: Earle (N.Bell 66), Powell (Fairs 50), Barber, Clarkson (Osgood 50), Goward, Smith, O’Rahilly, Whiting, Linfield (Johnson 40), J.Bell, Pecharman (Bebiano 66), Ordidge, Wilde, Condon (Nwachukwu 60), Watts.

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Club is ‘immensely proud’ as Pulborough girls set up another national final date

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For the third time in four years the Pulborough under-18 girls have made it to the national final of the RFU U18 National Cup proving that they are leading the way in Sussex.

The girls have tasted success before having been previous winners of the National Cup twice before; in 2015/16 and last year in 2017/18.

On Sunday, May 5, the talented team will face Mansfield in the final at Premiership side Worcester’s ground at Six Ways.

The team have achieved it this year by becoming County Champions, then by beating Sutton & Epsom (30-12) in the south east area final and then overcoming both Reading (21-12) and Winscombe (12-0) in the south of England semi-final played at Cheshunt.

The team is coached by John Breach, father of England’s Red Roses Jess Breach – a former Pulborough player herself, Kelly Russell and Keith Beckley and managed by Steve Summers.

The under-18’s squad consists of some 32 girls strong and is headed by two girls with England Sevens experience, Lauren Fisher and Flo Robinson.

However, every one of the girls has contributed to the team’s success this season from the youngest and newest girls who came up from the under-15s this year to the older more established players in their third year in the squad.

Pulborough club president Alex Steele and chairman Alan Nye both commented: “The whole Pulborough club are immensely proud of the girls.

“Once again this year and have been completely awestruck by the skills, running ability, physicality and intensity of the rugby the team has produced this season.”

The whole Pulborough community are all hoping for a third win for this talented group of young ladies.

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