By Richard Sykes
Huddersfield RUFC are preparing for their forthcoming National 2 North campaign with two pre-season friendly games, the first of which is at Lockwood Park on Thursday August 10 (7.45pm).
The close season has seen significant changes in personnel at the club. The departure of director of rugby Gaz Lewis, who has taken on the role of head coach at Cleckheaton RUFC, has left the management of the team in the hands of backs coach Neil Ryan and forwards coach Rob Anderson who will be jointly in charge.
The pair have impressive pedigrees as players and coaches. Ryan played club rugby at the top level with Sale and Orrell and represented the North of England and England ‘A’ as a fly-half.
He joined Huddersfield in 2021 after coaching spells at Southport and Firwood Waterloo. He has also coached the Lancashire under-16s and Academy teams to title success.
In his playing days Anderson was a lock forward who came through the Leeds Tykes Academy system, picking up caps for England at under 16 and 18 on his way through, before going on to play with Saracens, Wasps, Rosslyn Pak and Jersey Reds. He joined Huddersfield’s coaching team in 2021.
The loss of key players in the summer means that it will be something of a new look team that will be taking to the pitch. The most notable departures are those of captain Lewis Bradley, who has joined National 2 North champions Sedgley Park on their return to the third tier of English rugby.
Also fly-half and top scorer Will Milner has moved to play with Rotherham Titans as they resume their efforts to return to the higher echelons.
Ryan said: “The off season has been a busy period with players coming and going but we have worked hard to retain the majority of the present squad whilst bringing in some quality new players across forwards and backs.
“The new additions have fitted in well and this promises to be an exciting season. Both our pre-season games will be a test and we are keenly anticipating the challenges and to learning from them.
“I am excited about what the new season will bring and to working with the new captaincy team of Callum Thompson and Ed Barber. The players have taken ownership of their playing style and created a culture that will forge a high performance and strong group.
“The new league season promises to be really competitive with any team capable of beating any other on their day. We are looking forward to the challenges ahead and will certainly have some fun along the way.”
Huddersfield’s second pre-season friendly is against Hull Ionians at Brantingham Park on Saturday August 19.
The Ionians will be Huddersfield’s opposition for their league opener at Lockwood Park on September 2.