Old Wesley celebrating their league success last spring. Picture: Deryck Vincent

A RETURN to Division 1B brings big names, big games and big nights for Old Wesley and it starts next Saturday at 2.30pm with a trip to Thomond Park to take on UL Bohemians.
It is the first time the Donnybrook side have reached such heights since the turn of the millennium and clubman Alan Large revealed his and the rest of the first-team excitement for the coming season.
“There’s great excitement around the whole club,” he said. “A lot of the teams in this division we haven’t faced in a long time. This is my 11th year here and there are clubs like UL Bohemians and St Mary’s that I’ve never faced at all so it will be a big challenge but one we’re looking forward to.”
Indeed, Saturday’s meeting in Limerick will be the first time in 15 years the sides have met before Old Wesley welcome Buccaneers to Dublin 4 in a game that already has an interesting back story, which Large revealed.
“Buccaneers are Robbie Henshaw’s club and now we’ve got three of his cousins on our squad so that will add even more to our first home game of the season,” said the out-half.
“I’m sure a lot of the family will be there and there’ll be a cracking atmosphere. The great thing about being in the same league as all these good sides is that we have them home and away this year. If we take the points in Limerick on Saturday then UL will come to Donnybrook later seeking revenge and the same goes for Buccaneers and everyone else.”
One man who Old Wesley will be without for quite a while at the start of the season is JC Greyling, who will represent Namibia at this year’s Rugby World Cup which gets under way next week in England. His club mate said it is something they’ve prepared for but couldn’t provide an exact date on when he will pull on a Wesley shirt again.
“Even from this time last year, we would have guessed he’d be a part of the Namibia squad for the world cup and the coaches have prepared for that,” said Large. “He’ll obviously be gone for as long as Namibia stay in it and will then get a break on top of that. Hopefully we can get him back around the end of November or thereabouts.”
Finally, the former Large revealed the targets the side have set themselves for their return to this level. “We haven’t set our sights on a particular final position or anything,” he said.
“What we tend to do is target blocks of games, and target points from say our first four. Then after that, we assess it again.”