Championship XV – Front-Row & Scrum-Halves

You should have got to know most of the Championship XV ahead of this weekend’s game but here are the remaining players…

PROPS

Max Maidment (London Scottish)

Prop Max Maidment joined London Scottish ahead of the 2014/15 season following one season at Cornish Pirates which was curtailed by injury.

Prior to his short time at Pirates, the Bath University graduate spent three years learning his trade at Bath Rugby Club's Academy where he was coached by former British & Irish Lions lock Danny Grewcock.

During his final year of study, the prop captained Bath University with his impressive performances earning him a call-up to the England Students squad.

Maidment played all his junior rugby from the age of six at Haywards Heath in West Sussex, before attending Brighton College and following a similar path taken earlier by his elder brother Ben, who played for the Cornish Pirates from 2011 to 2013.

Whilst at Brighton College he played for London and the SE Under 18 sides.

His first senior club was Worthing RFC where his game developed under the watchful eye of ex-England prop Will Green.

He gained further experience during a gap year at Spotswood United RFC in Taranaki, New Zealand.
 
RYAN BOWER (Worcester Warriors)

Ryan Bower joined Warriors from Leicester Tigers in the summer of 2014.

The loosehead prop, who was included in England's 2011 Junior World Championship squad, made his debut for Leicester in 2010 and has also enjoyed two loan spells at Nottingham Rugby.

Bower has been a Championship regular in the Warriors front-row under Dean Ryan and got his first try for the club at Doncaster Knights in September.

MICHAEL HOLFORD (Nottingham Rugby)

Prop Michael Holford joined Nottingham Rugby from London Wasps.

‘Holf’ has represented England at Under 16, 18 and 20 level and is the cornerstone of one of the most impressive front-row units in the Championship.

The 32-year-old has also played at Leicester Tigers and London Welsh.

LEE IMIOLEK (Yorkshire Carnegie)

Yorkshire Carnegie signed 21-year-old prop Lee Imiolek initially on loan for the 2012-13 season from Aviva Premiership side Sale Sharks. 

He made his debut against Nottingham and in that first season played 19 times which included the two play-off games against Newcastle Falcons. 

He was an ever-present during the 2013-14 campaign and again played a key role in helping the team make the play-offs and the B&I Cup Final.

Before moving to Carnegie, Imiolek had played 26 times in the Premiership and had been an England international through the age-groups, representing his country at Under 16, 18 and 20 level.

He first featured for Sale in their Heineken Cup match with Toulouse in 2009/10 and before the campaign was out he made his debut and played his first full 80 minutes in the Premiership.

The 2011/12 season was a real breakthrough campaign as he made 15 league appearances.

HOOKERS

CHARLIE CLARE (Bedford Blues)

Hooker Charlie Clare last season cemented a regular starting shirt at Bedford Blues following a short stint at Jersey and having graduated through the Leicester Tigers ranks.

This season’s competition is bringing the best out of the Norfolk powerhouse who will bring additional physicality and weight to the front-row. 

Twenty-two-year-old Clare has also represented England at Under 16 level.

TOM CRUSE (Rotherham Titans)

Stockport-born hooker Tom Cruse is currently enjoying his second season at Clifton Lane with Rotherham Titans.

The front-rower with the Hollywood name, has starred for the South Yorkshire side since his arrival in the summer of 2013 from Macclesfield.

Cruse’s outstanding contribution for the Titans last term saw him selected for the Greene King IPA Championship dream team.

He is a dynamic hooker who contributes massively around the paddock with his pace, ball-handling skills and his ability to break the line.

In his 34 appearances for the Titans, he has an impressive return of 11 tries.

SCRUM-HALVES

JONNY ARR (Worcester Warriors)

Warriors centurion Jonny Arr has become a key figure at Sixways and has played more matches for his hometown club than any other current player.

A former Royal Grammar School student in Worcester, the scrum-half made his full first-team debut in 2007 having initially started his rugby in the club’s successful mini junior set-up.

Arr won international honours when he was selected for the England Under 20 side that achieved the Grand Slam in the 2008 Six Nations.

He was rewarded for his outstanding form throughout the 2009/10 campaign when he picked up the Young Player-of-the-Year and Most Improved Player-of-the-Year awards.

Twelve months later he went one better as he was named Player-of-the-Year after his impressive role helping Warriors win promotion from the Championship.

Arr became a Warriors centurion against Leicester Tigers in September 2012 and signed a new contract to extend his stay at Sixways in January 2014.

He made his 150th club appearance earlier this season at Rotherham Titans.

TOM KESSELL (Cornish Pirates)
               
Tom Kessell started his rugby career with Cornish Pirates back in 1995, playing for the club's youngest mini rugby team.

Due to family work commitments, Kessell moved to Somerset in the late 1990s and joined Wells RFC.

He then joined Bath and played for them at all ages up to youth and the Academy.

Tom's senior career started when he turned 18 and he joined Bridgwater & Albion, playing in National League Three South.

In 2008 he joined Newbury who played in the old National League One. A year later the chance arose to move to Plymouth Albion to play in the newly-formed Championship.

Selection for the England Counties team then saw Kessell tour Canada in 2010.

'Kess' has made 87 appearances in three complete seasons with the Pirates. He has also scored 22 tries, nine of which were recorded during 2013/14 when he ended the season as the club's top tryscorer. He has also skippered the side on occasion.