Rock ready for British invasion

Staff ~ The Telegram
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Swilers Complex site of big match between Rock and England Counties this Friday

Rock coach Pat Parfrey acknowledges that "on paper" his team is in tough against England Counties for Friday's big match at Swilers Complex.

"Fortunately," added Parfrey, "the game isn't played on paper. It's played on that wet, sloppy field (Swilers) and our expectation is that The Rock with get stuck into them and see what they're made of.

The England Counties rugby side practice on the Swilers Rugby pitch Tuesday afternoon. The squad, comprised of players from all points of England, will meet Pat Parfrey's Rock in a match Friday. Photo by Ashley Fitzpatrick/The Telegram

Rock coach Pat Parfrey acknowledges that "on paper" his team is in tough against England Counties for Friday's big match at Swilers Complex.

"Fortunately," added Parfrey, "the game isn't played on paper. It's played on that wet, sloppy field (Swilers) and our expectation is that The Rock with get stuck into them and see what they're made of.

"We have a very pretty good team and we've trained hard. I think the fans can expect an exciting game," said Parfrey.

Game time is 6:15 p.m. Ticket prices for the match are $10 (youth) $20 (general), $30 (deck) and VIP ($50).

"This is the biggest game we've had in about 15 years," said Parfrey. "We are very lucky to have this illustrious team in Newfoundland."

Parfrey said Friday's game is a highlight for his players and while everyone is looking forward to it, no one on the three-time Canadian club champion Rock side is intimidated.

"They have selected their team from about a hundreds clubs while we have four clubs in Newfoundland, so the attraction Friday is that we'd like to get as many people as possible out to support us. They'll also see rugby the way it's supposed to be played," Parfrey added.

Discussions for the current tour began with Rugby Canada and English representatives in November and the Canadian sport governing body designated the three teams to host the visitors including Ontario Blues and British Columbia Bears as well as The Rock.

English Counties manager Danny Hodgson explained that his team represents the community game in England.

The Counties team, which has been training in St. John's for a few days, is comprised of players from all points of England.

Hodgson noted the team program was formed in 2001 and has been a "hugh succes" since then.

"Our job is to get them together really quickly, get them to mix with each other and get them to buy into our style of rugby which differs from the style they played in their local programs. We try to blend experience players in with a bit of youth," he said concerning the make-up of the team.

"Hopefully, we can pick out young players and bring them through so that they can go further in the game."

He noted English Counties has developed players for the national team and several players have gone on to play professionally.

The team tours every summer and has been all over the world including South Korea, Japan, United States, Chile, France, Argentina, Ireland and Romania. This is the team's third tour of Canada.

"We look to make friends and promote ourselves and the game wherever we go," said Hodgson.

Following the England Counties match, The Rock will tour Wales July 22-27, prior to participating in the Americas Rugby Championship (ARC) league.

St. John's has been the site of several entertaining rugby matches since playing host to the New Zealand All Blacks development team in 1991. That was followed four years later by a visit from the Australian Barbarians.

The Swilers pitch was the site of the 2006 World Cup qualifier between Canada and the United States and three Rugby Canada finals have been played here as well.




ROCK STARTERS

The Rock's starting lineup against English Counties: Frank Walsh, Peter Densmore, Rod Snow, Brad Lester, Sean O'Leary, Kevin Parfrey, Tony Wodzilcki, Jebb Sinclair, Richard O'Malley, Dean Blanks, Tyler Wish, Robert Wilson, Geoff Warden, Ben Trevorrow, Morgan Lovel; Substitutes: Chris Burt, Owen Parfrey, Zach Coughlan, Phil Alcock, Patrick Parfrey, Cyril Budgen, Jason Picco

Organizations: English Counties, All Blacks, Australian Barbarians

Geographic location: Newfoundland, England, St. John's United States Canada South Korea Japan Chile France Argentina Ireland Romania Wales New Zealand

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