Willet and Oxley join Greens

Simon Willet is one of two new signings announced by Wharfedale

Simon Willet is hoping for less time on the sidelines at The Avenue

CLEAN SWEEP: Wharfedale Rugby Union Club president John Spencer, left, with volunteers young and old who spent last Saturday's NatWest RugbyForce Day getting The Avenue ready for next season

First published in Sport

WHARFEDALE have bolstered their squad by signing locks Simon Willet and Tony Oxley.

Scot Willet joins from Otley, having played against the Greens in May in the Yorkshire Cup final at Wagon Lane, while Tony has arrived from Old Crossleyans.

In addition, prop Jake Armstrong's signing from Leeds Carnegie – he was dual registered with Otley – has been made permanent.

Willet, 28, came to Cross Green ahead of the 2011-12 season from Selkirk, having also represented Edinburgh Academicals north of the border.

In addition, the 6ft 5in former Otley skipper has also had two spells in New Zealand, representing Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty and Harbour Rugby Club in Dunedin.

The likeable Willet had an eventful three years with the SSE National League Two North club, being suspended for 14 weeks in May 2012 for "making contact with the eye or eye area of an opponent" – a charge he vehemently denies – and missing almost six months of the 2012-13 season with a knee injury.

The rangy Oxley, who can also play at flanker, was runner-up in Old Crossleyans' player-of-the-year award at the end of the 2012-13 season and was jointly awarded the young player of the year award with Chris Vine.

Prior to that, Oxley was named most promising newcomer at Old Rishworthians after the 2008-09 season, having been named the under-17s' forward of the year in the 2007-08 campaign.

Tight-head prop Armstrong, 20, is a former Woodhouse Grove pupil who went on to study at Leeds Metropolitan University.

He has represented Yorkshire and England at under-17s and under-18s level and also represented England 19s last year while being duel registered with Otley.

The United Kingdom under-17discus champion has also played for Yorkshire under-15s and under-16s and North of England under-16s.

It is hoped that more players will have signed by the time of the club's annual meeting in the clubhouse next Thursday (7.30pm).

Meanwhile, England and Great Britain Sevens player Aaron Myers has left The Avenue to rejoin Darlington Mowden Park.

The 25-year-old is returning to his roots, having been born and bred in the north east, and played for Mowden Park in 2007.

He will be meeting up with former team-mate Danny Brown, who is now their coach.

Myers said: “Mowden has come a long way since I was last there, but the past experience was a considerable factor in my decision to sign.

"To be able to keep playing at National League One level at a club that is not only close to home but has the ambition and drive to achieve greater things, is a fantastic opportunity.”

Although gaining international recognition with England Under-18s, Myers really made his name at sevens, currently playing on the Elite Sevens circuit, where he has represented both the senior England and Great Britain sevens teams.

Former Newcastle Falcon back-rower Myers has been a key first-team squad member since signing for Wharfedale in 2011.

He said of Mowden Park: “National One will be a big step up for the club. I am hoping I can use my experience to help set a marker in the league and make sure that Mowden continue to be a competitive team and achieve their exciting vision.”

Brown said: "I am delighted to welcome Aaron back to the DMP family, I have been following his performances with a keen eye.

"He has certainly made a mark in National One and it is that experience that we hope Aaron can bring to Mowden as we embark upon a new challenge.

"Aaron won’t have things all his own way as there is some good competition in the back row, but we firmly believe he has added another dimension to our squad.”

Meanwhile, preparations for the new season are gathering pace at Wharfedale, with the first pre-season friendly scheduled for Saturday, August 23rd at home to SSE National League Two North Stourbridge, where the entry fee is £5 and costs will be shared by both clubs.

The following Saturday, Willet could meet up with his former colleagues as the Greens travel to Otley for what is not only the reverse of last season's pre-season clash but also a repeat of the Yorkshire Cup final.

The opening SSE National League One match is at Hartpury College on Saturday, September 6, with the first home match the following Saturday, when, ironically, Darlington Mowden Park are the visitors.

The Foresters have a strengthened fixture list next season, and open their pre-season schedule with the visit of North Lancs & Cumbria League club Fleetwood on Saturday, August 16.

The hosts will field a combined Foresters and Development XV side against the club where James Doherty began his career and where his dad Steve is on the committee, followed by a derby at North Ribblesdale on Thursday, August 21.

There will also be a floodlit matches against Leeds Met University on Tuesday, Sept 2 and Leeds University on Wednesday, September 24.

The facilities at The Avenue were spruced up last weekend by an army of volunteers as part of NatWest RugbyForce day.

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