Six Hoppers in Red Rose party

Fylde's Mark Nelson
Fylde's Mark Nelson
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Rugby’s County Championship campaign starts on May 7, with Lancashire naming a 35-man squad for the competition as they bid to regain the Bill Beaumont Cup.

Six players from Preston Grasshoppers are included in the party.

Lancashire reached the final of the championship last season, losing to Cornwall in the decider at Twickenham.

To get to the headquarters of rugby union again, Lancashire first have to negotiate their qualifying section, which kicks off on Saturday with the Roses match against Yorkshire at Scarborough.

Fylde’s Woodlands Memorial Ground hosts Lancashire’s home fixture against Eastern Counties on May 14.

The northern group concludes on May 21 when Lancashire face Cheshire at Sedgley Park.

Eastern Counties are newcomers this year – their squad is made up of players from Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Cambridgeshire,

There are 16 Fylde players in the party, one of whom – former Preston hooker Phil Mills – has indicated that he is leaving the Woodlands. Interesting inclusions include former Kirkham Grammar School and Fylde players, brothers Mark and Andrew Darlington, now plying their trade for Chinnor in National Two (South).

Lancashire hold the record for the most County Championship wins with 23 in total.

Mark Nelson is the head coach and Fylde’s Evan Stewart the captain.

Squad: Anthony Bingham, Dan Birchall, Chris Briers, Jordan Dorrington, Dave Fairbrother, Nick Gray, Simon Griffiths, Chris Johnson, Adam Lewis, Alex Loney, Phil Mills, Greg Nicholls, Gareth and Scott Rawlings, Warren Spragg, Evan Stewart (Fylde); Lewis Alllen, Peter Altham, Will Lees, Alastair Murray, Sean Taylor, Reece Tomlinson (Preston Grasshoppers); Steve Collins, Ben Black, Matt Lamprey, Callum McShane, Jonny Matthews (Sedgley Tigers); Andrew and Mark Darlington (Chinnor); Jonathan Nugent (Bergerac); Jack Ward (Rossendale); Louis McGowan (Caldy); Ben Dorrington (Vale Of Lune); Tom Hughes (Cefnogwyr); Niall Crossley (Hartpury College).