Albert Portsmouth sees a bright future for Cambridge Rugby Club
Departing star predicts good times ahead
Albert Portsmouth has predicted a bright future for Cambridge Rugby Club.
The 25-year-old centre is leaving the club after eight years to go and play rugby in Australia for Manley Rugby Club, based in the suburbs of Sydney.
He departs Volac Park having scored 84 tries in 162 appearances, with 31 tries in Cambridge’s promotion-winning season in 2015-16, a haul that made him the highest scorer in all of the top four leagues in the country.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for quite a few years now so it just made sense,” said Portsmouth.
“With the club getting promoted and Ross [Stewart, the director of rugby] coming in, it just never felt like the right time.
“But it just feels right now and time to scratch the itch. The club is in a very good place at the moment and in good hands.
“I have absolutely loved it, otherwise I wouldn’t have been there for the last eight years.
“The togetherness of the club since the financial difficulties has kept me there, and the friendships, like with Mikey Ayrton – and the friendships are a massive thing.
“The club is more than just the first team; I have invested my time in other parts of the club and that has made me want to stay and see it through.”
From a playing perspective, his highlight was the promotion season, but Portsmouth’s other significant role has been heading up Cambridge’s community coaching team.
In that remit, he played an influential role in bringing women’s and girls’ rugby to the club, having initially applied for funding to deliver training sessions in state schools.
“I said to John [Creighton, the club’s mini and youth chairman] we should be doing more, we should be doing it and he completed agreed,” said Portsmouth, who feels that the Cambridge Rubies are now in great hands with chairwoman Cate Dyble.
“We had 50-odd girls turn up to the first session and the rest is history.
“It’s something I’m quite a bit less recognised for, but it means a lot to me. Hopefully it will be a nice legacy for me to look back on and see how successful it is for years to come.”
It is with such developments, including the clubhouse extension, that Portsmouth believes the club is ready to thrive.
“With new facilities there, as a whole it should only grow the club,” he said. “The club has such big potential in a city like Cambridge to grow.
“They have got some level-headed guys like Steve [Bowller, the president] and Rob [Dean, the chairman] to help it grow. They are pragmatic, they’re not just looking to throw money at it, but to make sure it is sustainable.
“The boys are there because they want to be there, and more and more of us that live in Cambridge because we want to live with our mates.
“It just seems the right time to leave on a high and know the club is in a good position. It’s exciting times for sure.”