Four more commit to life at Vallis Way
Front-rowers Matt Thompson, Alex Penny and Will Davis and centre Tom Wheatcroft are the four latest players to extend their deals with Ealing Trailfinders ahead of their return to the Greene King IPA Championship.
Hooker Thompson was a late addition to director of coaching Ben Ward’s side and he played six matches as the team wrapped up the National 1 title. His experience of over 200 matches for Newcastle Falcons in the Premiership and Championship as well as England Saxons appearances will be crucial to the club’s hopes of establishing themselves in the Championship.
“My agent asked me how I would feel about joining Ealing Trailfinders and after a bit of thinking I jumped at the opportunity to assist with their promotion ambitions, ” Thompson said.
“I'm so pleased I did as I have thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of life down here. The club is building in the right way at the right speed with a strong group of ambitious players with a good blend of experience and youth.
“They also have a young ambitious coaching team that plays an attractive brand of rugby on a pitch that enables them to do so. It made it a very easy decision to sign on for another year.”
Alex Penny has enjoyed a season-long tussle with Nathan Buck at tight-head prop. He has been a match-day squad regular in his first season since joining from Henley Hawks in which he made 24 appearances and scored two tries.
“I’m really happy to have signed on for next season, ” Penny said. “I've really enjoyed this year, playing with a great bunch of boys. I think the atmosphere at the club is outstanding and there is a great culture among the boys.”
Penny’s fellow prop Davis also arrived in the summer of 2014, from Bristol. He scored two tries in 19 matches before injury curtailed his season. However, he is well on the road to recovery and looking forward to playing in the Championship again.
“It was a very easy decision to re-sign with Ealing Trailfinders, ” Davis said. “I really like it at the club and wanted to sign a two-year deal to commit myself to the vision that Ben Ward has in place and that I want to be part of.
“The style of rugby and the 3G home pitch really suits me and allows me to express myself on the field. The squad is really close and to have achieved our goal of promotion has only made us stronger as a group.”
Centre Wheatcroft joined Ealing Trailfinders in 2011 and was an integral part of the squad that won the 2013 National 1 title. He made strides in the club’s debut season in the Championship where he played fly-half, centre and fullback.
The 26-year-old Wheatcroft played 14 times as Ealing Trailfinders won a second National 1 title in three years and weighed in with 25 points from three tries and five conversions.
“I can really see a club with great ambitions for the future, ” he said. “There is a great atmosphere around the club, with a great bunch of boys to share some amazing memories with.
“I wouldn't want to be at any other club as Ealing Trailfinders feels like home.”
Ealing Trailfinders are returning to the Championship for the second time in their history and all four are sure to play key roles in ensuring the club maintains its place in the second tier of English professional rugby.
“Thommo has come in and shown his quality from day one, ” director of coaching Ward said. “He has huge amounts of experience that will be valuable to us on and off the field. He has a great work ethic and will be a vital member of our squad.
“Alex has been playing his first year in this type of environment. He has made great strides and I think with a big off season and pre-season he will be in even better condition to push on.
“Will has shown good improvement this season and like Alex still has a lot of areas to his game that he can improve on. It is up to us to unlock that potential and bring the best out of Will and I am looking forward to working with him over the next two years. He is a mobile prop but that doesn't take away from his primary role at the set piece.
“Tom is an integral part of the squad. He is well liked and respected among his teammates and on the field he has continued to develop each year. He was with us last time in the Championship and he is looking forward to having another crack at this level.
“I believe with a good pre-season Tom will give us different options in the back-line. He has a great passing, kicking and offloading game and will be exciting to see how he gets on next year.”