It’s been a mixed season for the Club overall in our 41st season as in the Senior and Ladies Sections for the first time for many seasons, no team won any trophies in the leagues or cup competitions, which meant all players were very disappointed that this had occurred and are committed to rectify this by establishing a winning platform for next season.
The biggest improvement in playing standard was shown by our Youth Section with age groups from U7s to U12s winning many festivals and tournaments in a consistent manner against several senior Clubs such as London Welsh, Wasps, Saracens and Rosslyn Park for the first time on a regular basis. This had never been achieved before and makes it even more exciting for the up and coming season.
Our men’s section went into the season with a new Head Coach Liam Dunseath, with lots of enthusiasm and expectation of finishing higher in the league that the season before. It was hope that with a new coaching philosophy that approached the game with new modern ideas of attacking and defensive skill sets throughout our five men’s sides, it would help to establish the 3-year plan for the Club, that was being promoted throughout all Club sections.
In truth our season for all our five sides were a disappointment, especially in the 1st XV, as we were found wanting on several occasions in our league games and finish after a few heart stopping moments 8th in the league overall, which was a long way off what we hope to achieve at the start of the season. This can be put down too many things that are too long for this report to go into, but I would expect them to be rectified in the up and coming new season.
On a good note at the end of the season we had five First XV players represent Middlesex CRFU in the county championship competition, namely, Huw Bowen, Ultan Bruton, Alexander Gee, Cale Holmes & James Lo.
A special mention must go out to Josh McClean, who captained the 1st XV superbly in all the league and cup games and put his heart and soul into every aspect of the team development over the season.
The Second XV was a much more stable side than in the previous season and played a number of games in the newly formed Middlesex Merit Table (MMT) Premier league notably reaching the play-off semi-finals in the league and the final of the cup competition, which was a huge improvement on the previous season for the team. A big thank you must go out to James Cramp, who managed the team well as captain, even when he sustained a very bad injury in the early part of the season. Also, many thanks to Chris Eldridge who stepped into the role of captain of the 2nd XV for most of the season, at short notice and his enthusiasm and drive help to make the 2nd XV into a formidable team to play against.
Our Third XV, which was led by Will Parker who moved up from the 4th XV captaincy, had a difficult MMT league campaign. This was due to the lack of availability of players and injuries, which caused the team’s season to be a very poor in many respects, as they could not compete at the usual standard of performances expected of the team in the MMT Division One League and finished second from bottom of the league as a consequence.
The Fourth XV suffered with similar player availability problems and struggled to get any momentum to put up a consistent performances in the MMT Division Two, but Nick Turner the acting captain tried his best with the rest of the players to play good rugby which paid off near the end of the season which meant the side finished seventh in the league.
For our Fifth XV captained by Steve Danby, this was a very quiet season for them as they finished second in the MMT Division League season and lost in the MMT Division Three League Play Off Final and as they did not enter the MMT Bowl Cup competitions. It was for the first time for many seasons that the team had no trophies to show for all their spirited efforts in matches.
The Vets team found the going very hard in the Middlesex Vets League this time around, as the opposing teams had improved a great deal and getting younger, which meant they could only finish second from bottom. But this did not stop Adam Jones’s side enjoying themselves on Friday nights under flood lights and in the bar after the games.
A thank you must go out to all those involved at the Club with the men’s teams this season in many capacities who help coach the players on training nights and turned up in all weathers on Saturday afternoon namely Liam Dunseath, Ian Burbedge, Dan De Wolf, Phil Swainston and James Coubrough who all did a lot of good team work to try and improve the skills and standard of play in games across all of the teams during the season.
Once again, the Ladies First XV finished second in the Women’s Championship South East Two League, after putting in another excellent performance throughout the season. It was just by fine margins that they did not get to the play-offs, as they drew three matches which shows how tight some of the games were in their league. The team had leaders throughout all positions and fantastic coaching from Mark Lewis and Caroline Peyrel who blended a strong bunch of committed players into a powerful unit that played very good rugby in all positions.
A Ladies Development XV also play this season and are being put into a league in the 2019-20 season, which is a great result for all the hard work in by the coaching staff, Helen Payne, Helen Caux and Sophie Tauchert to grow the Ladies section.
Everyone involved in the Tuesday night selection of teams for the men’s and Ladies sides must be congratulated for all the time, effort and dedication shown to making sure that Club puts out competitive teams every weekend. The input of club captain Andrew Rogan for the men’s team selection or Sophie Tauchert for the Ladies team are invaluable as they both liaise closely with the respective captains of their sections during selection.
Lyndon Walters made sure that everyone knew who and where they were playing on match day’s and in addition organised the referees for all the games, which is such an important role that he does with great understanding of requirements.
The organising of our Physiotherapists for training and match days was greatly enhanced by the arrival of Ella Chadwick as players were looked after completely by all physios for minor and major injury concerns throughout the season, which was not an easy thing to do with so many players involved during a long season.
Thanks go out to our three Middlesex CRFU representatives Chris Cuthbertson, Bhomdat Mahraj and Lyndon Walters who do sterling work promoting the Club throughout Middlesex by providing a voice on matters that affect us and also do a lot of good work of behalf of the County in organising Cup competition and adding a voice to the general administration of Middlesex CRFU.
One of the big success stories for the Club this season was once again our Youth Section, which saw our U7s to U12s really improve in all aspects of skill levels and player development which was due to the excellent diligence and dedication by all the coaches, parents and volunteers who put a lot of time and effort every Sunday morning at Hurlingham Park to make the Youth Section a vibrant, friendly and fun place for the young players to learn and excel at rugby under their guidance.
This was emphasised by the very good results achieved by the U7s to U12s age groups against strong opposition in friendly games and major festivals/tournaments, which meant that several new trophies have been added to trophy cabinet at Hurlingham Park. All the lead coaches Matt Wilkinson, Mike Hindley, Michael McNamara, Jeremy Ng, Florent Gaudaire and Richard Wilmot who all deserve a well earn thank you for all they done for the players and the Club this season.
One aspect of the Youth Section that needs a lot of work to get it back to the level of a few seasons ago, is the aged groups from U13’s to U18’s as the number of player joining these aged groups have dropped dramatically for a number of reasons, which the Club is trying to address. This season we have not been able to put out U16s, U17s or U18s teams, which is a big disappointment to the Youth Section. A notable exception is the U15s, who through their coaches Chris Bone and John Mortimer have applied different initiatives that have kept their players involve with the Club, by inventive training methods on and off the pitch, which have proved to be a hit with everyone involved.
The Little Hammers always enjoyed themselves, with the drills they were put through by lead coach Lyndon Walters and our U13s and U14s trained respectively by Jean Lafontaine and Fernando Goni did themselves proud, against much stronger opposition.
Special mention should go out to Carl Evans who does a great job on Sunday morning selling the club merchandise to the parent and players in the pavilion and to all the volunteers who man the café to sell the endless cup of tea and coffee, along with the much loved bacon rolls.
At the Mitsubishi Middlesex Rugby Awards Ceremony on 7th June 2019, three Youth Section volunteers won awards: –
Mike Hindley – Winner of Overall Individual Volunteer of the Year Award
Andrew Whiteman – Nominated as Overall Individual Volunteer of the Year Award
Richard Wilmot – Winner of Middlesex Coaching Award
Well done to all three winners.
Mike Hindley now goes forward to the Mitsubishi National Awards and we wish him all the best at this event.
Many thanks to James Darrall our social secretary for organising our functions this season at McGettigans, which kept the social side of the Club active to its usual high standard. A special mention also goes to Bukky Moekeke for her invaluable help with the dinner & dance at the Star and Garter and for organising a fantastic Ladies Lunch at the Rylston.
The Rylston once again did the Club proud by hosting the men’s league match lunches, the hugely successful Ladies lunch, for running the BBQs at Hurlingham and for providing the refreshments at the AGM, Rob Jenkins of Portobello Brewery again provided copious amounts of beer to the Club, for which many thanks.
I would like to thank Matt Baddeley, Ella Chadwick, James Darrall, Liam Dunseath, Adam Jones, Will Parker, Helen Payne & Caroline Peyrel who are all stepping down from various positions at the Club, for their support and the amount of work, time and effort they put in to helping the Club during the season.
All Club sections went on tour this season and from little I heard back from the men’s Ladies and youth sections they all had fantastic times in their separate location. The men’s and Ladies section both travelled to Prague over the Easter weekend and the May Day Bank holidays respectively and several age groups in the Youth Section went to Camber Sands in Sussex.
Looking forward to next season, there is a lot of challenges that the Club has to address to get it going forward once again, in the direction that’s needed to get close to what everyone wanted to achieve that we all agreed was needed in the 3-year strategic plan that was present at last season’s AGM. On that note I am looking for the following thing to happen next season:
- First XV to finish in 4th place or higher in the London North West Two League next season.
- Second XV to once again qualify for the MMT play-offs and win the MMT Cup.
- The Third and Fourth XV’s to all qualify for the MMT play-offs and Cup Finals.
- Youth Section to put a plan in place to rejuvenate the U16s to U18s age groups.
- The Ladies First XV to reach the play-offs and the Development XV to stay in the leagues.
- To improve relationships with LBHF and to improve facilities at Hurlingham Park.
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 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.
Finally, I would like to thank all our sponsors: BTL Property, Haggards Crowther, Hamptons, McGettigans, Pegasus Group, Portobello Brewery, Starstone, The Fest & The Rylston for their continued invaluable support.