All Golds director talks local rugby, league re-structuring and the new season ahead of Coral Challenge Cup opener

This weekend sees the season opener for the Gloucestershire All Golds and ahead of the rugby league side’s trip to Drighlington in the Coral Challenge Cup, club director Lionel Hurst spoke to Severn Sport ahead of the new campaign. 

With the new league structure in place, fixtures are due to be released in due course but for Hurst it is all about tomorrow and the Coral Challenge Cup and hopes that tomorrow’s result will help the All Golds kick on for the new season.

“We are very excited to be taking part in the Coral Rugby League Challenge Cup. We qualified by winning the Harry Jepson Trophy against North Herts Crusaders.

The competition has mystical qualities having been first played for in 1897. History was made in 2018 when the first overseas team ever – Catalans Dragons of Perpignan – won the trophy in the customary Wembley final.

The All Golds have a good record in the Challenge Cup and none of us will forget the after the hooter winning try the other year against North Wales Crusaders at the Racecourse stadium Wrexham.

A triumph tomorrow in Yorkshire would certainly rank as a major milestone. Regardless of the outcome it will give us a clear indication of where we are as a squad in readiness for the upcoming Summer season.”

The Coral Challenge Cup provides a chance for the sides involved to play at Wembley in the Final and should the All Golds progress tomorrow, they will find themselves just 7 games away from a big cup final on the grandest of stages.

Last season the All Golds went unbeaten throughout their domestic season and as Lionel Hurst told us, they also lifted the Harry Jepson Trophy and for their 2019 campaign the All Golds will be part of a new league.

In December 2018 the RFL launched a new community league consisting of 14 teams, The Southern Conference League. The league has an East and West divide, similar to non-league football. The winners of each division will go on to face off in a play off match, where the winner will be crowned the inaugural Southern Conference League Champions for 2019.

For Hurst and the All Golds, they are hoping to utilize the new league format to expand on their reputation as one of the best community clubs in the county and more importantly attract a new generation of supporters.

“The All Golds have been to the fore in outlining to the Rugby Football League the way forward in terms of a national development strategy. The new Southern Premier Division is a major step in that direction. It provides the club with the route back to the higher echelons of the sport.

There is no doubt it will assist the club to develop off the field too in terms of for example increased fan base, commercial activity and player recruitment.

On the field we will be looking for the same exhilarating and thrilling style of play that the club developed in its 2018 campaign. The philosophy is to play with structure where necessary but to continue to develop a flamboyant approach that will excite all those who come to watch.” 

This summer also sees the club hosting their Primary Schools’ Festival on 1st July whilst they will be seeing the return of the 1908 Cup for boys and the Golden Fern Cup to the All Golds, with the club hosting both cup finals on 10th May. Hurst praised the chance to see the next generation of talent and is hoping it can benefit the All Golds going forward.

“It is wonderful to see young players – boys and girls – enjoying a sport that is in essence made for them with its simple rules and emphasis on running and passing. It is all part of the England Talent Pathway and after the 1908 Cup the year 9 boys will be invited to trial for the All Golds new under 14s side. The creation of a player production line is essential for the club’s long term sustainability.”

Hurst also revealed that the All Golds will be looking to announce their pre-season friendlies ahead of an exciting 2019 season and we will be able to bring those to you on Severn Sport.

So what are the targets and ambitions for the club this season after a great 2018 campaign? Hurst remains very tight lipped…

“Well we mustn’t fall into the trap of announcing our targets in public! Suffice it to say the principal aim is to build a respected organisation in all areas. I am confident if we achieve this then success will follow.” 

As it stands, the next chance to see the All Golds in action at home is the scheduled game versus the Royal Navy on Saturday 6th April. For more fixture information check out the All Golds website right here.