Swaffham excited by Twickenham chance as they prepare for first Junior Vase match since 2000
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Coach Francis Donaghy is embracing the magic of the Junior Vase as Swaffham prepare to end their 14-year exile from the competition.
The Greene King Eastern Counties Division One outfit head to same-league Mersea Island in the first round tomorrow. It's the North Pickenham Road club's first Vase match since 2000 and the importance of being back in the prestigious cup is not lost on Donaghy.
The senior coach said: 'If you can't get up for a cup where the final is at Twickenham then there's not much hope. Even as a proud Irishman, who wouldn't want to take part in a match at one of the Mecca's of rugby?
'To lead a side out out onto the pitch there would be a really proud day for myself, Stuart Low (senior coach), Spike (Ian Milligan chairman) and everyone connected with the club.'
Swaffham's road to the home of English rugby may be a long one but it starts against familiar opponents. They beat the Islanders 31-25 in Norfolk last weekend but will field a much-changed squad for this weekend's match.
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Front row Max Thompson, back row Matty Taylor, scrum half Matthew Clarke and vice captain Jordan Mustard are all unavailable after their side had originally been handed a free weekend.
'That's four very strong players we've got to replace but it gives other guys an opportunity,' said Donaghy.
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'I thought we deserved to beat Mersea last weekend but because some players have made plans, as they thought we didn't have a game, others will get a chance to try and get themselves more game time.'
London North-East Division Three West Norfolk host UCS Old Boys in the first round of the Senior Vase – the higher-level national competition they will compete in after gaining promotion from EC One.
Coach Chris Bird, whose side picked up their first NE3 victory last weekend, said: 'It was an important result for us after the two narrow defeats.
'We were missing quite a few of the senior players, so to see the younger guys step up and play well to get the result was great, although there are few things to iron out still.'
EC One Wisbech are without a fixture which gives them a chance to regroup after a dreadful start to the term which has seen them lose all three of their league matches following relegation from NE3.