Devon player Ashlee Crouch is the latest signing to strengthen the Plymouth Albion side as he joins the team on loan from National League 2 Barnstaple.
Ashlee, 23, is Devon born and bred and grew up in Bideford. There was no history of rugby playing in the family but his mum saw the sport as a way of getting rid of some of his excess energy.
“I’ve been playing since I was nine,” he says. “I was a pretty active kid and as soon as I could play my mum got me into rugby to let off steam. As soon as I started playing I was one of the better players of the team. I played for the second year colts at Barnstaple when I was 17 or 18 then when I went to Bicton College I signed up for the Exeter Chiefs Academy.”
Having started playing to channel his energy, Ashlee admits he’s sometimes “teetering on the edge” on the pitch which has got him into trouble on more than one occasion. But this young player believes that this will work well at Albion.
“I have a controlled level of aggression other players don’t have which suits me as a tighthead prop, although I’d like to be a hooker.
“I’m glad to be at Albion. I started training with them and was there for the pre-season friendlies and I guess they liked what they saw. I’ve always wanted to play at the highest standards and I thought after the Exeter Chiefs Academy that I’d have a shot at it.”
Joining any team part-way through the season is tough, so what does Ashlee think he will bring to the squad?
“There is that level of aggression and I think that that will fit in with the playing style, although there are still some things I’ve got to learn. I get on really well with the lads – I went to college and university with a lot of them – and there’s great craic.”
Ashlee has now moved back to Plymouth and the digs he rented when he was studying at Marjon and in the Plymouth Albion Academy. Fingers crossed he will avoid injuries which have afflicted other members of the team.
“I’ve never really had any injuries or accidents when I’ve been playing rugby but I have broken bones off the pitch,” he says.
See Ashlee make his first start for Plymouth Albion this weekend vs Cambridge and make sure you say hello when you see him.