All Golds ready for 9s debut
The event kicks off at 6.30pm and their first ever professional opponents will be one of the great names of world sport, current Carnegie Challenge Cup holders, Wigan Warriors.
The All Golds captain, James Greene (pictured), is a former 9s winner with Hull FC in 2009 and knows first-hand the thrilling content of the 9s version of the sport.
James said: "It was possibly the best sporting experience of my life playing in the 9s final and lifting the trophy in 2009.
“It’s an amazing occasion where teams, and more importantly, supporters of all leagues, regions and even countries come together to create an outstanding atmosphere.
“The 9s circuit is a great chance where players can show their ability and flair not just as a rugby player but as an athlete. I look forward to seeing the players and matches through this year’s competition as the performance bar keeps getting nudged higher year on year."
Ken Stone is the All Golds head coach and the favourite to land this role with the professional club when it debuts in 2013.
The 9s series presents a wonderful opportunity for him to be part of history and to shape the All Golds future.
Ken Stone said: “The team has been patiently waiting to be part of the pro 9s. Playing against opposition like Wigan will be a tough test but the players and myself are looking forward to this challenge.
“It's going to be an historic day for the university and the South West region when the All Golds take to the field and we will be doing our best to ensure we perform to our ability and doing so with pride and honour for the great men in 1908 who wore the All Golds shirt."
The All Golds will also face in their group games, Widnes Vikings, who are coached by former Gloucester Rugby Union man, Denis Betts who is himself a former Wigan Rugby League star and who still lives in Gloucestershire, and London Broncos.
When in 2008 Cheltenham Tourism Chief, Ken Jennings provided the funding to purchase the All Golds Cup, little did he realise that a professional Rugby League team, the University of Gloucestershire All Golds, would not only carry the name of the trophy but would indeed be playing in a top level 9 aside tournament with the prize on offer being that same All Golds Cup.
The beautiful trophy bears the civic coat of arms of Regency Cheltenham and will be awarded to the ultimate winners on Finals Night at Headingley Stadium, Leeds on June 26.
The All Golds squad for the 9s series is as follows:
• Lewis Warner
• Rory Sharratt
• Callum Mulkeen
• Phil Cowburn
• Pat Evans
• James Gahan
• Matt Bradley
• Mike Stewart
• Marcus Brown
• Louis Spencer
• James O' Donnell
• Daniel Poulton
• Yannic Parker
• Nathan Rainer
• Steve Taylor
• Pat Hanslow
• Joe McLean
• Sean Denning
• Dom Regan
• Tom Pearce
• Andrew Bulumakau
• Harry Chapman-Walker
• Josh McLaurin