Drybrook proud to play role of stepping stone for Gloucester rugby stars like Andy Bulumakau
FIJIANS flying into Forest of Dean skirmishes might still leave some rubbing their eyes with disbelief.
But Drybrook RFC will puff out their chests any and every time Andy Bulumakau pulls on Gloucester's cherry and white.
Globalisation might be commonplace at Premiership level, but it is clearly not the norm across Gloucestershire.
The relentless advance of Hartpury College has changed the face of county rugby – at the same time as helping elevate Gloucester Rugby's academy to new heights.
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Traditionalists might not fathom a place for the further education college in the grassroots pyramid.
But Drybrook are the prime example of how to adapt to the change – and reap the benefits.
Fijian three-quarter Bulumakau has now secured a senior academy deal at Gloucester, after two years with Drybrook while a Hartpury student.
It is no coincidence Bulumakau chose Drybrook – club head coach Frazer McArdell lectures at the college.
Drybrook sent Bulumakau off to summer sevens action with Gloucester with good luck messages and full blessing.
If the 21-year-old races through the ranks to full first-team honours, nothing would give chairman Paul Mason and Co greater satisfaction.
"We'd be proud to be the stepping stone for players in local rugby to make the transition to high levels, without doubt," explained Mason.
"Everyone at the club is bursting with pride at what Andy has achieved, and it would be fantastic to see him build on that in the future.
"Hopefully we are making positive strides forward, and people can see we have a set-up here that allows talented players to thrive.
"Certainly we like players to express themselves and show what they can do.
"We want to play a progressive game that people enjoy watching as much as playing.
"If we can have played our part in Andy's development and rise through the levels, then we would be absolutely delighted."
Drybrook return to Western Counties North action this term, confident their settled squad can re-establish the club at the level.
Mason continued: "Out of the 25 years of league rugby we've been in the Western Counties division for 15 or more seasons anyway.
"So we have a lot of experience of the standard, the challenge and the requirements to be successful at this level.
"We're going into the season with a lot of continuity and stability, and that's going to stand us in great stead."
Drybrook have secured a £36,900 National Lottery grant to replace the flat changing room roof, that has caused headaches in recent years.
Mason said the grant will help transform club facilities.
He added: "The grant is fantastic, we've had a real problem with our roof, and in heavy rain it would leak often and cause lots of damage.
"This will allow us to improve our facilities no-end.
"We are in the process of applying for planning permission now, and if all goes to plan then we would hope to have the work completed this side of Christmas."