Portsmouth's French deserves to go out on a high
PORTSMOUTH prop forward Ian French wants to end his career on a winning note against Old Emanuel in London three south west at Rugby Camp tomorrow (3pm).
French, 41, has decided to hang up his boots after over 20 years and 326 senior appearances for the club.
He started at the club as an 18-year-old St Johns College student and remained during and after his Portsmouth University days.
Though he may consider the odd run out with the vets French is ending his senior commitments.
Head coach Jim Pearce praised French for his dedication.
‘Ian has been a fantastic servant to the club and to play the number of games he has is some achievement.
‘A number of local clubs are lucky to have families involved in their set-ups.
‘You have the Knights at Havant, the Dugans at Gosport and we have the Frenchs.
‘Wife Pauline plays for the Valkyries and son Joe plays in the juniors.
‘Their weekends have very much revolved around rugby and Portsmouth Rugby Club.
‘Now they plan a little more family time away from the rugby.
‘I have known Ian personally since the age of nine and he is a competitive beast at the best of times. That is one of the reasons he has been able to carry on as long as he has.
‘He grafted hard to win his first-team place. He just goes out to enjoy his rugby. He also enjoys touring and having a beer.
‘It would be really appropriate if we can send him off on a winning note.
‘Ideally we can score in the dying seconds and give him the conversion.’
Portsmouth have consolidated a third-place league finish.
Pearce is satisfied with that and reckons the foundations have been laid to move forward.
The priority for Pearce this season was to get the players to enjoy their rugby again.
He believes they have succeeded in doing that.
The home side make a number of changes to take on the league leaders.
Danny Holbrook is unavailable so Simon Morgan switches to the scrum-half role.
Curtis Barnes moves back to the full-back position where he scored five tries against Old Cranleighans.
Player-coach Matt Farnes comes in on the right-wing.
Lee Chandler continues at outside half and it promises to be an exciting match tomorrow.
‘We could and maybe should have won at Old Emanuel in the opening game of the season,’ added Pearce.
‘They have some talented three-quarters who like to throw the ball around.
‘We are playing well at the moment and also have the incentive of defending our unbeaten home record.’
Portsmouth: Barnes, Farnes, Hunter, Gates, Simmons, L Chandler, S Morgan, French, Fooks, Wilkie, Crabb, Leggott, Easterbrook, Brock, Bowen, Hoolihan, Parry, Whitehouse