STOURBRIDGE RFC’s preparations for next season have been boosted after a number of star players committed themselves to the club.

Director of Rugby Neil Mitchell says he is pleased so many of the existing squad have chosen Stourbridge as the club to be at in order to further their careers, despite overtures from Championship outfits.

Centre Ben Barkley, back row Rupert Cooper, fly half Sam Robinson and scrum half Tom Richardson are among those who have put pen to paper.

Mitchell said: “When players like Ben Barkley and Rupert Cooper choose to play National Division 1 rugby with Stourbridge then there is a lot to be pleased about.

“They are both outstanding young athletes who have committed themselves to Stourbridge for the season ahead.

“With Sam Robinson and Tom Richardson also signed up, I'm confident that we will be playing high scoring, high octane rugby in front of the appreciative Stourton Park crowds.”

Mitchell believes young players see Stourbridge as a club where they can get experience both on and off the pitch and improve their rugby skills.

He said: “So many young players go from school into academies without always benefitting from the full on 'club' environment that Stourbridge provides.

“When you see Alex Grove doing so well at Worcester, and hear that James Tideswell has signed for London Irish it confirms Stourbridge has a valuable place as a springboard to the fully professional game.

“The whole club has a fresh enthusiasm about it and with the quality of players already signed up it is going to be a great season.”

Members are advised that the club’s AGM will be held at Stourton Park on Thursday July 9th 2009, commencing 8pm.

The Stourbridge Lions 1st XV will be getting their teeth in to many established local rivals in Midlands Two West (north) during the 2009-10 season. The full list of teams in the Lions' league is Ashbourne, Aston OE, Bridgnorth, Dixonians, Lichfield, Ludlow, Old Saltleians, Shrewsbury, Stafford, Stourbridge Lions, Willenhall & Wolverhampton.

Roger Parkes has stepped forward as Lions chairman of selectors, while Ian Strangward continues as 1st XV coach. The Lions 1st XV will be led by team captain Chris Simcox.