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Preason Preview: Oxford @ Bury Saints

The first action of the 2016 season is here, as the Oxford Saints travel to take on the Bury Saints in a preseason clash THIS SUNDAY.

 

Oxford began training early for the upcoming season, with rookie sessions in November and December followed by weekly practices for the whole team from 3rd January.

Another successful recruitment drive has seen the team register 90+ players, including a good number of returning veterans and rookies from 2015.

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Practices have been intense with competition at an all time high. The coaching staff have been closely evaluating practice performances so that they can formulate the gameday squad for the Bury Saints game.

Head Coach Andrew Day has now announced the 60 strong squad who will be travelling to Thetford Rugby Club for the preseason game.

Oxford Saints Head Coach Andrew Day:

“We are so excited to be at the business end of our pre season program. The lads have been working so hard in practice since December and another successful off season recruitment drive has seen competition for places very high.”

“We are looking forward to testing our young squad against the Bury Saints who have a fantastic program up there under the tutorage of Coach Wallis, whom I respect immensely.”

“Bury are a big step up for us and will be a good gauge for us to find our own level.”

“I’m looking forward to it.”

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The Bury Saints are one of the more recent clubs to join the UK American Football scene and stormed through Division II in 2015, ending with victory over the Bristol Apache in the Division II Rose Bowl Final.

Bristol, who will be competing in the same conference as Oxford again, suffered only two losses in their 2015 campaign. One loss was claimed by Oxford in game 2, which featured one of the biggest comebacks in Oxford Saints history: Oxford Saints VS Bristol Apache Game Report.

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With Bury delivering Bristol their 2nd loss of the season in the final, the Bury Saints earned their promotion to Division I and will now be looking to make a statement and continue building on their successes.

Bury Saints Head Coach Chris Wallis:

“It’s been an interesting pre-season and it’s good to finally start playing games.

“We know that the opposition will be much tougher in Division 1. We got a taste of what to expect in the playoffs and our aim is to compete and establish ourselves in this Division.”

“Oxford reached the Quarter Finals last year and will be a real test for us. We have a lot of new players and it will be a great experience for them.”

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2016 Cavalier Cup – Lancers VS Panthers THIS SUNDAY

Super Bowl Sunday will be a big deal this year. Not only are the top two NFL teams going head to head in pursuit of the Vince Lombardi Trophy, but Oxford will be having it’s own showdown.

Each year the Cavalier Cup is up for grabs in the varsity game between The University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University. Kick-off is at 1PM, Wheatley Campus.

The Oxford Lancers are currently riding high with an undefeated record and have turned their club around. After suffering back to back seasons without any victories, new fire has been breathed into the organisation and Head Coach Andrew McKenzie is leading the charge.

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Cross town rivals the OBU Panthers have had a troublesome time and will be looking to put behind their recent suspension from games and get back to winning on the field.

Taking on the Lancers will be their first contest since returning to training in 2016 and there is a trophy at stake. In 2015 the Lancers claimed victory over the Panthers and took home the Cavalier Cup, but will they keep hold of it for another season?

We spoke to both teams to get their views on the continuing rivalry.

Lancers coach Adam Goldstein said:

“The Panthers will be very hungry to get their season back on track after their three game suspension. We expect them to be very fired up to win some silverwear. We expect (as always ) a very tough battle. we haven’t lost in 8 games now and we are 4-0 on the season.”

“The Lancers won the 1st leg against OBU earlier in the season 13-12. If it is a tie on Sunday then it goes down to aggregate scoring between the teams, so it really will be a ‘win or lose the cup’ situation.”

” We haven’t lost in 8 games now and we are 4-0 on the season.”

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Currently the Cavalier’s Cup record is a tie, with both teams having won it twice.

A win for the Lancers on Sunday will demonstrate that after being whipping boys for several seasons, they are a vastly different team and are now THE team in Oxford to beat.

A win for the Panthers will help shore up their image, reclaim the trophy and put an end to the Lancers 8 game winning streak.

Panther president Ian Whitehead added:

“It’s the first game back for the Panthers after suspension and it couldn’t be a better opposition to return to action against, with team morale currently at its peak going into this fixture against our close rivals. The first game in which, aside from a few special teams errors and unlucky turnovers, was firmly in the Panthers’ favour, now sets up what’s sure to be a great match second time around.”

“After a period of detention, the Panthers are back with a renewed sense of determination, as well as a promising new quarterback looking to make his mark on the Cavalier’s Cup. This re-invigorated side is looking to put themselves back on the map as the strongest prospects in the division, and with nothing to lose the pressure mounts on Oxford to turn up and provide a great game.”

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Saints Connection

The Oxford Saints have connections with both University sides and both head coaches are former players for the Saints. OBU Head Coach Nick Wykes (below) is the Defensive-Coordinator/Assistant Head Coach for the Saints.

He is also a retired player and hall of fame member.

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Meanwhile in the Lancers camp, new Head Coach Andrew McKenzie had a spell with the Saints in 2014 at quarterback and previously to that, tight-end. An injury early in the 2014 season whilst playing against the Lincolnshire Bombers saw McKenzie’s season at QB for the Saints cut short.

Several current players for the Saints such as defensive lineman Toby Durant and free safety Ian Hiscock are involved in coaching the two University teams. With Hiscock at the Lancers and Durant at the Panthers, the Saints continues to support both teams and look forward to a thrilling contest.

The OBU Panthers have a history of sending talented players to the Saints, with star running back James Walter being a former Panther along with full back Ryan Kingshott (below) who is still playing for OBU. Both are back with the Saints for 2016.

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Photos courtesy of Chris Janes – Jamo’s Pics

Saints Announce Move To Tilsley Park

As the Oxford Saints continue to grow, newly-elected Chairman Andrew Peart announces that the team will be playing home games at Tilsley Park in 2016!

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The well-situated venue in Abingdon is just a short journey from the club’s current home at Abingdon Rugby Club and will provide an excellent opportunity to host American Football games in the upcoming season.

With a huge amount of renovations, Tilsley Park will become a great home for our players and fans and allows us to keep building a stronger club for Oxfordshire.

Guests will be able to take advantage of an easy-to-access location, plenty of free parking, covered seating and a bar/kitchen area available on match days.

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With a brand new 3G pitch being installed and excellently equipped changing rooms, players for the Saints and our visiting opponents will be in store for a memorable season in our debut year at Tilsley Park.

Adding to the experience further, the availability of a PA box and speaker system will allow us to provide in-game commentary and music, with many more ideas in the pipeline.

Speaking on this breaking development, chairman Andrew Peart added:

“2016 is an enormously exciting year for the Saints, both on and off the field. We have a talented roster that improves every year, a dedicated and knowledgeable coaching staff, a dynamic committee & a rapidly expanding and passionate fan base.

Our challenge is to build on our potential as an organisation and this announcement is a key milestone in the continuing growth of American Football in Oxford.”

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As popularity for American Football in the UK continues to rise with no sign of slowing down, the Saints have enjoyed a period of increased player numbers, media interest and a growing fan base.

Under new management, the Oxford Saints committee are overseeing a vast modernisation of the club and a new venue was at the top of the list. Abingdon Rugby Club is expected to remain as the training venue for the Saints and has been a great home over the last few years.

Andrew Peart continues:

“Our move to Tilsley Park represents exactly the kind of progress we’re looking to make.

We want our supporters to have the best game-day experience possible, our players to have the best playing facilities possible and the wider Oxfordshire community to have the best opportunity to become part of the Saints family.

We firmly believe that our new facility will provide all of these things & I’d encourage as many people as possible to come & experience the excitement of a Saints games at Tilsley.”

With work on the new pitch expected to be completed on schedule, the venue will be ready just in time for the start of the Oxford Saints season.

The Saints continues to be an attractive club for players and staff in the south east, which now provides an indoor winter 3G training facility to accompany it’s new 3G game pitch.

If you are an existing coach looking for a new home, we’re on the look out for additional staff to support our 2016 campaign. Contact us to find out more http://www.oxfordsaints.com/contact/

Expect an announcement over the next two weeks with all our 2016 game dates, so we hope to see you for some Saints football at Tilsley Park!