BRIDGWATER & Albion welcome Launceston to College Way this Saturday (ko 3pm) for a crunch match between the top two in the South West 1 West standings, writes Richard Walsh.

Albion go into the match in second spot, and Wayne Sprangle – appointed player-coach before the start of the season – is happy with the way that the team has performed in their six matches so far.

Sprangle, a forceful Number 8, has proven himself to be a shrewd signing by the club, and has led the team from the front.

He said: “If you’d asked me in July what position in the league would I like to be in by the beginning of October then yes, I would probably have said near the top!

“In truth you are never too sure, but hopefully you want to be in a position where you are being competitive and not towards the bottom half.”

Sprangle added: “Since arriving at the club everyone has been very welcoming and have given me a lot of messages wishing me well.

Bridgwater is a big club within the area and it was very daunting at first but exciting at the same time.

“I have a good amount of playing experience behind me, and I feel I am now in the right position at the right club to pass that experience on.

“Our current success is not down to just myself, though, and Bridgwater’s other new coach, Richard Bright, has been awesome.

“Since he agreed to join the club he has shown a huge amount of dedication, energy and commitment to his new role.

“We have worked very well together and certainly share the same vision of how we would like the team to play.

“As we are both player-coaches, it has helped us to get to know the players quicker and gain their respect in the process.”

Sprangle also talked about the rest of the coaching team at the Albion.

“As well as Brighty, we have had Ollie Devoto and Carl Rimmer from Exeter Chiefs, who remain coaching on a weekly basis,” he said.

“These guys were already coaching at the club and were useful to gather information about the players.

“I was very keen to make sure we use Devo and Rims to the best of their ability; they are great guys who really buy into everything at the club and are highly respected by all the players and coaches.

“Their sessions are fresh and offer me, Brighty and the players new ideas, and everyone really enjoys having them around on a Tuesday.

“It also gives myself and Brighty the chance to focus on training with the team while they are leading the sessions.

“With the coaching team in place and all four of us doing our bit, it was then onto trying firstly to get a buy-in from the players and then trying to sustain it.

“Three months in and numbers at training are still hitting highs of up to 35, plus players with new faces appearing now and again.”

Sprangle has been impressed by the attitude of his squad, adding: “The players have been awesome, and I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of lads to coach, train, play and drink with.

“I told them at the start I am looking forward to working with them, and I will train with them, I will play on a Saturday with them and I will drink with them in the bar afterwards.

“I strongly believe that every player at the club matters; it can’t be all about the first team, you have to be willing to develop everyone who turns up to train.

“I think we as coaches have convinced the players of this, have shown we are staying true to our word and therefore we have had the consistent numbers at training, so I thank them for all they have done so far.”

Regarding Albion’s second place in the table, Sprangle said: “We currently find ourselves in a great position in the league after the first half dozen games but we are still looking at areas of our game we can still improve on, that we haven’t done as much work on compared to other areas.

“This could also be down to the great food that we get treated to after every training session by the lovely ladies who volunteer their time to keep us well fed – thank you ladies!”

Sprangle added: “Finally I would like to say a big thank you to director of rugby Geoff Sluman, who has facilitated all of the above.

“We have good players, good player-coaches, good specialist coaches and good support from the director of rugby and committee.

“All of that, coupled with the history, adds up to a great club, and I am thoroughly enjoying being at Bridgwater & Albion and looking forward to the rest of the season.”

This Saturday, Sprangle will be lining up with the Albion team to play against Launceston, where he spent several years as a first team regular.

Before the game, the Friends of Bridgwater & Albion RFC will be hosting a lunch for more than 200 members and guests.

NORTH Petherton are on their travels this weekend, heading down to Devon to face Okehampton.

Pethy were narrowly edged out by Thornbury a fortnight ago and face a tough assignment on Saturday - their hosts sit third with five wins in their opening six matches.