Nelson ready for Cornish cracker in store

Lancashire coach Mark Nelson
Lancashire coach Mark Nelson

Lancashire rugby union team coach Mark Nelson says he is far from ruffled that Red Rose county supporters will be heavily outnumbered by Cornwall fans at Twickenham on Sunday.

In fact, Nelson says the more Cornish fans turn up the better...

The sides clash in the final of the County Championship, with the Bill Beaumont Cup at stake, and Cornish officials are expecting anything up to 8,000 supporters from the duchy to add their vociferous support.

Nelson, who also coaches the Fylde team that makes up a significant part of the Red Rose side, says the 8,000 figure could be erring on the side of caution. “It wouldn’t surprise me if there was more than that. Usually when we play at Twickenham, the ground is so empty you can only hear my voice from the sidelines!

“The teams would much rather play with an atmosphere, as I am sure there will be on Sunday.

“I am glad that we have a final against Cornwall, and one of the interesting aspects is that no-one on either team will have played against each other before.

“We played Cornwall in the semi-final in 2002, when we won at Redruth, and the only people from then who will involved on Sunday are Paul Arnold and (forwards coach) Martin Scott.”

The Lancashire players are training at Preston Grasshoppers this week, with the team being finalised tonight.

A large Fylde contingent is expected to be included when Nelson and his back-up team make the final call on selection. Cornish skipper Ben Hilton – the second rower dubbed ‘Cornish Granite’ – has been cleared to play in Twickenham.

He had his disciplinary case dismissed after being accused of striking an opponent while playing for Launceston in a National Two South match with Worthing.

Another Cornish forward – Barry-John Chapman – will miss the final against Lancashire after being banned for eight weeks. He was found guilty of stamping during the same game last month.