TAUNTON Titans head coach Tony Yapp believes that the incoming players announced this week will help his side deal with the “pretty brutal” nature of National 1.

The Titans have picked up four more Academy players from Exeter Chiefs, as hooker Harry Hocking (aged 18), props Matt Johnson (22) and Danny Southworth (21), and back row player Charlie Wright (21) all come in.

They join fellow Exeter youngsters Cory Teague and Tom Wyatt, who helped Taunton earn promotion last season and are returning to the Towergate Stadium for 2020/21.

“Our squad has been very strong over the last 12 months, and them coming in adds more depth,” said Yapp.

“National 1 is going to be pretty brutal, so we can’t have players carrying injuries - we want to have options to make changes.

“Competition for places is good, too, and I’m sure they will all fit in well at Taunton.”

Another player coming back is Joel Conlon, a flanker who came up through the youth section at Taunton while attending Heathfield Community School, before going on to play for Exeter and Saracens, as well as England Under-20s.

Two years ago, at the age of 24, he was advised to step away from rugby due to a neck injury but has recently been given the all-clear to return to playing.

Yapp added: “Joel lives round the corner from the club, and has been a regular visitor to watch games - he’s a true Taunton lad.

“He was given the green light [to play] by doctors and physios, and he felt that playing for his hometown club was a great opportunity to get back into rugby.

“We’re fully aware of his quality and that clubs could come knocking next season.

“We will support him in any way we can, and won’t stand in his way if he gets the chance to move up to a higher level.”

Yapp also spoke about his team's preparations for the season - whenever rugby is ready to return.

“We have a programme for the players that goes out every week, to get the guys up to speed and fit," he said.

“We have some guys who are desperate to come back, others who are making the most of the time off.

“We have no sign yet [of a return date] from the RFU, but we know it won’t be September, as we will get at least four weeks’ notice.

“It may be November, or even January.

“Until fans can come in and the bar can reopen, there’s not a great deal of point in playing, from our point of view.

“Our first game in National 1 was due to be at home to Leeds - a Premiership team not so long ago - and to play that behind closed doors would be such an anti-climax.

“We will have a good look at the protocols for training in the next seven days, and decide whether to have the players in one day a week, or to hold off for now.”


TAUNTON RFC is holding an online auction to give businesses, family and friends the opportunity to bid for their favourite players and sponsor them for the 2020/21 season.

The auction will run until August 31, and more details can be found here.