PETE Boulton says he made friends for life at Oxford Harlequins, but has no regrets about his switch to Banbury.

The tight-head prop was handed his Bulls debut in Saturday’s 36-18 victory over Oxfordshire rivals Witney.

It was a strange sight to see Boulton in a Banbury jersey, having become a key component of Quins’ often well-functioning pack during a nine-season stay.

But a tough campaign at the Marston Ferry Road-based club, which saw the South West 1 East side avoid relegation on the final day, combined with work and personal life issues, prompted a change.

And the 30-year-old, after helping Oxfordshire to County Championship glory at Twickenham in May, decided to join up with Banbury in pre-season.

Boulton said: “There was a couple of reasons behind the change.

“It’s a bit closer to home and I needed a bit more convenience for rugby with all the travelling I do.

“There’s a lot going on in my personal life.”

He added: “I agonised over it for quite a while.

“Once I finally reached a decision, moving somewhere else was the best thing for me, but getting to that point took a lot of time.”

Boulton made an impressive start to his Bulls career, looking at home alongside loose-head Ian Isham and hooker Giles Saar in the front row.

And he will be relishing the chance to lock horns with some of his old teammates on October 28, when Quins visit Bodicote Park, which this week was renamed the DCS Stadium.

Boulton said: “I knew a few of the Banbury boys through the county team.

“I don’t think it was any secret Quins had a poor season last year and coming to the end of the season I needed a bit of a change.

“I spoke to some of the boys and went to pre-season and I enjoyed it.

“They are a real good bunch.

“One of my main worries was they had been together for a good few years and I would not fit in, but they’ve made me feel very welcome.”

Boulton will always have fond memories from his time with Quins, listing the league and Oxfordshire Cup double in 2014 among his highlights.

He said: “I’ve made friends for life.

“I think they will do really well in the future, but for me it’s time to move on.

“Andy Boyle (head coach) is doing good things there and the committee are doing the right things for the club.

“The captain Allan Purchase is a good friend of mine and the right man to lead the team.”

Boyle admitted Boulton would be a huge loss, but wishes his former player well.

He said: “I would love to still have him.

“He goes with my full blessings and hopefully we will have a couple of interesting games with Banbury this season.”