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Cornish Pirates strengthen squad with three more signings

By West Briton  |  Posted: July 05, 2012

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THE Cornish Pirates have continued their preparations for the new season with three more signings.

Lock Darren Barry has joined from Bristol, while centre Tom Bedford (Newcastle Falcons) and hooker Darren Semmens (Cornish All Blacks) have also joined the Championship club.

The Pirates have been looking to bolster their second row after the summer departures of Ian Nimmo, Mike Myerscough and Matt Smith, and Barry seems to fit the bill well.

Still in his early-20s Barry started his rugby career at Old Redcliffians before joining Clifton and then the Bristol Academy in 2008.

A product of Filton College, where he captained their first XV, Barry comes from good rugby stock with his father Derek having played for Bath during the Jack Rowell era.

He has also represented England at Under-19 level but injuries and competition for places limited his opportunities at the Memorial Ground and Head Coach Liam Middleton released him along with 14 others in May.

Barry, who stands 6ft 6ins tal land tips the scales at more than 17 stone, played his first Championship game for Bristol in eight months last October having featured in the British & Irish Cup defeat at the Mennaye Field against the Pirates. He also spent a spell last season on loan at Clifton.

Exeter-born Bedford started out at the Chiefs at the age of 17 making a total of 38 appearances for his hometown club before moving on to Bedford Blues in July 2010 with still a year of his contract left to run.

During his spell at Goldington Road the 23-year-old made 17 starts scoring two tries before earning an opportunity to join Newcastle Falcons in the Premiership on a six-month deal back in January.

Bedford, who has represented England at age-grade level up to the Under-19 squad, ironically made his top flight debut against his hometown club in the 16-10 defeat for the Falcons.

His first Premiership start came in February against London Irish but he had been released by the club before their relegation to the Championship was confirmed last week.

St Just born hooker Darren Semmens is a product of local Cornish rugby having initially played for the now defunct Mounts Bay club in the National Leagues.

The 24-year-old moved on to Launceston in 2008 before a brief spell at Redruth at the start of last season. After just 10 games for the Reds Semmens was one of a number of players who left amidst the then financial uncertainty at the Recreation Ground and he returned to Polson Bridge.

Pirates Head Coach Ian Davies said of his new recruits: "Tom Bedford can cover across the whole back line and he is an experienced player having spent time at Exeter Chiefs, Bedford and Newcastle in the Premiership.

"The fact that he is an EQP (English Qualified Player) is a bonus as he can tick that box too.

"Darren Semmens is a local lad which is important for the club and also an experienced player too. But you have to remember that you can't just go out and replace Dave Ward with Dave Ward. He is a different player."

The sensational news from London last Friday evening that London Welsh had won their appeal over promotion to the Aviva Premiership next season means that the Cornish Pirates will now face Newcastle Falcons in the Championship.

Having finished bottom of the Premiership the Falcons should have faced automatic relegation but the refusal of the RFU and Premier Rugby Ltd to allow the Welsh promotion after beating the Pirates in the Championship Final resulted in an appeal heard by an Independent Panel.

They ruled that the Exiles should be promoted on the basis that they play their home games at Oxford's Kassam Stadium and that the club did meet the minimum entry criteria to the league as imposed by the Professional Game Board.

Cornish Pirates owner Dicky Evans said: "I am extremely pleased that a Championship club has successfully stood up to be counted and took on a set of anachronistic regulations and won.

"Let's hope the RFU and Premiership Rugby now see that the future of the game has to be opened up for clubs like ours."

With the Falcons deciding against appealing against the decision, the Cornish Pirates are now due to play Dean Richards' side at the Mennaye Field on September 23 with the return fixture at Kingston Park on the weekend of January 26.

Exeter Chiefs prop Chris Budgen is among the players who will be turning out for a special rugby match to raise money for the Help for Heroes charity.

The game between a Combined Services Veterans XV and a Camborne Select XV is taking place at Camborne RFC on Saturday, July 14, with a 2.30 pm kick-off.

The gates open at noon and the admission price is £2, including a programme and entry into a prize draw.

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