The men’s section has had an indifferent season, but there were some notable achievements from the Fifth XV and our Vets. Our ladies section continued to excel in their league and retained the Griffin Cup. Our youth age groups have once again won several festival/tournaments, which bode well for the up and coming 2017/18 season.
To keep the Club ticking over successfully throughout the season a lot of hard work goes on in the background to make sure that the Club functions correctly on and off the field and I would like to thank all the team captains, coaches, various volunteers and my fellow Club committee members, who give up a great deal of their time to help make our Club the success it is.
Our First XV never really got going this season in London Two North West Two to give the team a real chance to capitalise on last season’s successful campaign, when we narrowly missed out of promotion. They were many factors that meant that we finished in our lowest league position for a number of seasons, but without doubt a number of the opposition teams in the league that we would usually have beaten, improved with regards to fitness levels, player recruitment and their standard of play, which our team could not match and this was reflected in the results we achieved. Lessons have been learnt from this season and plans are being put in place as I write this report, that will hopefully mean we will regain our usual high standard playing performances. I would like to thank James Smart, who captained excellently throughout the season and the efforts of the coaching staff of Dave Mannion, Ronan Murphy and Ian Burbedge.
The Second XV reached the semi-final play-off in the Zoo Division Three North League, which was a great achievement following a disrupted season when they did not get to play as many games as they would have liked. Once again Andrew Neal did a fantastic job in coaching the team after a difficult campaign last season. I would also like to thank James Spearing for captaining the side and giving a focus to the team on and off the pitch.
Our Third XV led by Steve Harris had a slightly up and down season by their own high standards. They reached the semi-final of the Middlesex Merit Table (MMT) Cup, but only managed to finish 8th in the MMT Division Two League. The coaching team of Paulo Jefferies and Daniel DeWolf helped put together lots of different drills and skills sets to improve the playing standard of the side throughout the season.
Mike Spurgeon led from the front as captain of the Fourth XV and the team was very unlucky to lose a number of their MMT Division Two League games by narrow margins, which was a shame as the team played with real adventure.
What a season the Fifth XV had as they finally won MMT Division Five, which was fantastic achievement for captain Felix Whitechapel and the team. The team seems to have a never ending winning formula coupled with a very good social atmosphere which can be seen on and off the pitch. The team is looking to win the league next season and go one better in the MMT Bowl Cup, after they narrowly lost in the semi-final this season.
It was good to see our Sixth XV, under the leadership Sebastian Money, play several games this season. The team helped cement the social side of the Club whilst playing a good standard of rugby.
Our Vets team, captained by Adam Jones embraced the MMT Vets Floodlit League, which was played on Friday nights, eventually losing to Ealing in the final. The team had an ever-increasing squad of players with many Club legends turning out. The Vets also travelled to Dublin to support the Stuart Mangan Cup taking a large squad over to the emerald isle and raising money for the English & Irish injured players’ funds.
The Ladies First XV put in an excellent performance in the RFUW Championship South East Two League once again in a very competitive league. The results show that the team belong in this league and they hope to improve on their league position next season. A big thank you must go to captain Alex Lemaigre and coaches Mark Lewis and Emile Plateau-Illoz. They finished the season by winning the Griffin Cup at Wasps with very good standard of rugby that the other teams could not match. A big thank you must go out to Lucinda Tauchert and Sophie Tauchert for all their work for the Ladies Section and all of the others who help keep this section of the Club at the forefront in everyone’s mind and ensure that the opposition enjoy excellent hospitality at The Fest.
Our men’s section travelled to Iceland for their Easter tour, which was expertly organised by James Darrall, and had a great, albeit an expensive, time. The ladies visited Milan for a seven competition in the first weekend of June and looking at the pictures on Facebook they too had a very enjoyable time. Not to be out done the young Vets had a mini tour to Edinburgh to take in the European Cup Finals, playing one game in the process. All survived the game (and the drinking) to return home safely.
The weekly selection of all the men’s teams was helped by good administration and management by Club Captain Andrew Rogan who liaised closely with all team captains to ensure that all players and teams were treated fairly at selection. He kept in touch with Lyndon Walters to make sure that everyone knew where they were playing and that referees were provided for each game. Once again, Sophie Tauchert did a great job in organising the Physiotherapists for training and games, which was not an easy job to do during a long season. In addition, Andrew Neal made sure that all the medical bags were well stocked with first-aid supplies. Our Middlesex County RFU representatives Bhomdat Mahraj and Lyndon Walters once again did a lot of hard work promoting the Club throughout Middlesex by providing a voice on matters that may affect us.
The youth section excelled itself again by not only winning a large number of trophies but maintaining its membership base and giving over 400 children, from under 6s to under 18s, a great time on a Sunday morning. The growth of our older age grades has seen us having to utilise Barn Elms playing fields as space has become a premium at Hurlingham Park with the Club. The Club continues to try and obtain a second youth pitch in South Park.
I must thank all the age group coaches Lyndon Walters, Mike Hindley, Jonathan Stone, Michael McNamara, Jean Lafontaine, Tim Cassidy, Nick Beckett, Chris Bone, Richard Wilmot, Olivier Staub, Jamie Kelly, Fernando Goni and Richard Aldridge and all their assistant volunteer coaches for helping produce well trained & disciplined players, who enjoyed their rugby at our Club. Their efforts were greatly appreciated by the parents.
A number of the above-mentioned coaches now hold RFU coaching awards which means they will be able to provide the players with up-to-date coaching techniques and skills sets.
Chris Bone and his under 12’s squad had a great time in Italy on tour just before the Easter break with a touring party of 40 players and parents enjoying the matches and the sunny weather.
I would like to thank all youth committee, especially Chris Cuthbertson, Jenny Slack-Smith, Olivier Staub, Mike Storey and Lyndon Walters for all their and work support during the season.
In addition, a special mention and thank you must be given to Polly Woodford who gave up a lot of her time to sell the RFU raffle tickets on behalf of the Club, which she did very successfully. Also, a special thank you goes out to Carl Evans who helped in many ways on Sunday mornings.
Richard Horsley our social secretary laid on many functions this season. He also organised with much input from Vicki Tapley a great venue for our end of season dinner & dance event, which took place at the wonderful location of the Star & Garter public house, by Putney Bridge.
Off the field discussions are continuing with the Council about improving the pitches and facilities at Hurlingham. I am pleased to say that the boilers have been replaced and that the floodlight problems will be addressed in August.
I would like to thank Jenny Slack-Smith, James Smart, Mike Spurgeon, James Spearing, Andrew Neal, Jacob Bray, Lucinda Tauchert, Kim Frost and Alex Lemaigre who are stepping down from various positions at the Club for their support and the amount of work, time and effort they put in to help the Club.
Looking forward to next season, there is a lot going on which will make it a very interesting one for the Club:
First XV to finish higher up the London North West Two League next season.
Second XV to play more games next season.
For the Third, Fourth and Fifth XV’s to all qualify for the MMT play-offs and Cup Finals.
The Sixth XV to play a minimum of eight games.
The ladies section to run two sides
To increase the number of RFU Level One and Two coaches at the Youth section.
As with any organisation the Club management is always on the lookout for new input to help to promote and improve the running of the Club, so that all the players can continue to enjoy success on and off the field. We have always maintained the ethos of the founder committee members of providing a competitive rugby with a strong social aspect to anyone who joins the Club, regardless of nationality, race, religious beliefs or sexuality.