Nayland College student Stuart Flutey plays in a Stoke uniform during a recent pre-season match. Photo: Phillip Rollo.

Stoke and Nayland join forces


Every rugby team at Nayland College will now play under the Stoke Rugby Club banner, unless it’s for a one-off first XV match.

Having withdrawn from the Press Cup at the end of last season, 2014 is expected to bring a new dawn for Nayland College, who will now enter a team in the local under-18 competition instead. But in that grade, and in under-16, under-15 and under-14, the team will be now representing Stoke and wearing a red uniform.

Nayland College’s director of sport Mark Cochrane, says there needed to be some change after the withdrawal from the Press Cup, and the decision to link up with Stoke was the right way forward.

“Stoke is a community team, and rather than having Nayland separate from that, this is now a Stoke team with all of the Nayland boys playing for them,” he says.

“This is a joint venture and we wanted to create a pathway from JAB all the way up to senior rugby.”

Because each player is now representing a club, it would be possible to attract players from other schools or those who have left school – as long as they fit into the age bracket.

The move also comes just months after the entire Stoke under-13 team enrolled at Nelson College this year, meaning Nayland is unable to field an under-14 team.

“By having it at Stoke, it means we can attract some of those boys back and that’s the aim.”

Stoke’s operations manager Kim Biggs, says the timing is perfect with Nayland experiencing a shortage in player numbers.

“We can step in and see if we can do something together. We just don’t want players to drop out of the system basically,” she says. “There tends to be a massive drop off in sport when kids hit college, so we just want to stem that tide.”

The new relationship between school and club has already been on show, with the under-18 side playing a pre-season friendly against the senior squad at Nayland College last weekend.