Rugby: Somerset Vikings ready to rumble

Bridgwater Mercury: The Somerset Vikings. The Somerset Vikings.

THE Somerset Vikings Rugby League Club begin preparation for their 2013 campaign with pre-season training which starts tonight (April 3) at Old Morganians Rugby Club from 7pm.

This season sees the Vikings tenth anniversary, the club having been formed in 2003.

It all seemed a little bit fanciful at the time. The words “Somerset” and “Vikings”, and “Rugby League” did not really seem to go together. 

The Vikings of old never advanced as far as Somerset however much they may have pillaged in the North of England.

Certainly Rugby League had struggled to extend its boundaries much beyond the M62 corridor.

The South West of England was, and still is, renowned as a stronghold of the Union game.

Ralph Bridgeman, president of the Somerset Vikings, said: “Initially there was some hostility towards the idea of Rugby League here in the South-West, but this has largely died.

"Rugby League is played in the summer and thus the respective seasons only briefly overlap.

"At the top level of the game it is not unusual for players and coaches to move between codes and there is a growing recognition that the skills, although subtly different, are complementary and equally deserving of admiration.”

The Vikings are now on a sound financial footing, thanks to their long time key sponsors Smedegaard Pumps, who took an interest in the Vikings since their parent company and head office is based in Denmark.

Coincidentally Smedegaard also celebrate their 30th year in the UK this year, so the partnership will be a joint celebration.

“We are looking forward to another exciting season," added Mr Bridgeman.

“Having survived and enjoyed a modicum of success, especially in the last two years, we have set our sights on growing.

"This means a significant increase in funding, a renewal of our search for a ground we can call our own, and the recruitment of more and better players to build on this success. Development of our youngsters is clearly a priority.”

The Vikings first game this year will see them playing host to old friends and rivals Gloucester Warriors on Saturday, May 11 at the new home of the Vikings at the Bridgwater ground of Old Morganians RFC.

With the launch of the new second team the club is welcoming new players, whether they are people who want to learn the game, or established rugby union players who would like to play sociable summer rugby. All are welcome.

For more information contact Darren Horne on 07817-795089

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