Autumn International Tickets

The RFU have just given us the details for the Autumn 2022 fixtures.


  • Sunday 6 November – England v Argentina – KO: 15:15
  • Saturday 12 November  – England v Japan – KO: 15:15
  • Saturday 19 November – England v New Zealand – KO: 17:30
  • Saturday 26 November – England v South Africa – KO: 17:30

I have been given an indication of our allocation but confident I can source some additional tickets. To satisfy as many people as possible I will have to keep requests to a combined total of 2 tickets per member across the New Zealand and South Africa game’s (can be a single ticket for each). Both the Argentina and Japan game’s should not be a problem and no restrictions will apply. I will formulate a list on ‘first come, first served’ and work through the list as and when I can secure tickets – to validate your requests you will have to be, at minimum, a ‘paid up’ social member of the club.

Ticket categories and prices (including £5 admin charge):

New Zealand

Premium £179 – 215

Cat 1 £163 – 184

Cat 2 £137 – 158

Cat 3 £116 – 132

Cat 4 £96 – 101

South Africa

Premium £132 – 148

Cat 1 £127 – 142

Cat 2 £111– 122

Cat 3 £96 – 101

Cat 4 £75 – 80


Premium £122 – 137

Cat 1 £111 – 122

Cat 2 £101– 111

Cat 3 £90 – 96

Cat 4 £70 – 75


Premium £85 – 96

Cat 1 £75 – 80

Cat 2 £70– 75

Cat 3 £59 – 64

Cat 4 £49 – 54

Junior tickets should be readily available for the Argentina and Japan games for all the ticket categories for £28 & £23 respectively. It is highly unlikely that I will be able to secure any junior tickets for the New Zealand and South Africa games but we can live in hope (£28 if available) – if you do apply for these games please state whether you would want the adult tickets even IF the junior tickets are not available.

Please apply for tickets via email:

Stuart Montgomery

TWRFC All Stars v Old Skinners’

A beautiful sunny Easter Saturday saw the re-arranged Boxing Day fixture between Tunbridge Wells All Stars, made up of a mix of players young and old and special guests from other clubs, and Old Skinners’, made up of past players from The Skinners’ School.

Referee Martin Croker blew his whistle and we were off in front of a large crowd of around 150. For anyone expecting to see a fun social game the first 5 minutes showed that this was going to be fiercely competitive as tackles came crunching in from early on foiling attacks on both sides. With Old Skinners’ wing Tom Lane and George Gomersall putting in some big hits early on, as did Tom Petty and Tom Bagwell for the All Stars. The deadlock was broken after 7 minutes when Max McCabe was in support to take the final pass to run in under the posts, converted by Isaac Jones for a 0-7 lead to Old Skinners’.

Max McCabe goes over for the opening try

What followed was 10 minutes of attacks on both sides foiled by good defence and a few mistakes. Just before the 20 minute mark Alex Maynard found some space and a turn of pace not seen since his Twickenham appearance in 2016, and he touched down in the corner for to reduce the deficit to 5-7.

With the sun pouring down the match was played in 20 minute quarters – The All Stars squad was big so replacements made regularly and a few new faces appeared for the second 20. Old Skinners’ started well and took the points despite the light-hearted boos from the crowd. Isaac Jones increased the lead to 5-10. The All Stars pressed hard but were met with a wall of great defence from the young Skinners’ side. Then following a clear penalty given away by the Veteran Paul Miles, a quick tap was looking certain to be another score for Old Skinners’, but it was Rob Harrison’s side’s turn to put in some defence to stop the scoring opportunity.

Towards the end of the half Old Skinners’ once again took the points and Isaac Jones added another 3 to take the lead to 5 – 13. The half ended as the All Stars ran out of defence and with Old Skinners’ knocking on as the final pass was made. The half time whistle went despite some confused voices in the crowd expecting a more severe punishment for the offence!

All Stars ringed the changes in the 3rd quarter and started well pressing hard for the first 5 minutes but the passes just didn’t fall as Old Skinners’ continued to defend ferociously. Breaking quickly from defence Old Skinners’ found the gap and raced to the line with Finn Holden scoring and adding the conversion. Old Skinners we’re having a purple patch and it was Anthony Storkey who split the defence to score and convert increasing the lead to 5-27. Soon after Jack Palmer got on the scoresheet with a fine swallow dive try converted by Isaac Jones as the 3rd quarter ended 5 – 34.

No quarter was given during the game

The All Stars made some final changes again for the final quarter and again started well. Prop John Owuso stole a ball in midfield and linked with Tom Bagwell to Alex Maynard who set our other Twickenham 2016 winner Charlie Harding away for a well deserved try which he converted to close the gap to 12 – 34.

But it was Old Skinners’ that finished the stronger with the final try to finish a great game as Will Corrie capped a great performance scoring to make the final score 12 – 39. Skipper on the day for Old Skinners’, Matt Humphrey received the winners’ trophy from Tim McCabe and Craig Fleming (Assistant Headmaster at The Skinners’ School). The Man of the Match awards went to Rob Harrison and Conrad Fletcher (who received the Tim McCabe Challenge Cup, jointly) for the All Stars and Old Skinners’ MOMs were Max McCabe and Anthony Storkey.

It was a great day for the town club with some exceptional young talent on show, boding well for the future of rugby in the area.
Next week sees the final TWRFC 1st XV fixture of the season as we welcome Dorking RFC to St. Marks – Sat 23rd April – 3pm k.o.

Fran Colangelo



Tunbridge Wells travelled to Wimbledon with a side weakened by the absence of a number of key players which resulted in a bit of a mismatch. Wimbledon started strongly and quickly realised that they had the beating of the Wells backs when their inside centre, Henry Peuble, broke the Wells defence to score under the posts with only two minutes played. The successful conversion by Jack Noble, the first of 11 he was to have in the afternoon put the score at 7-0. Wells came back and despite giving away two ruck penalties managed to stay in the home side’s 22 long enough for a successful penalty from Finlay White on 13 minutes, 7-3. Any encouragement this gave the visitors was quickly dashed when a poor kick by Wells gave the Wimbledon winger ample space and time to run the ball back. Two slick passes resulted in a home try on 15 minutes, 12-3. Five minutes later Wimbledon scored again when poor Wells tackling allowed Finn Taylor to cross for a try on 20 minutes, 19-3. The Wells pack stuck to its task with some aggressive running from hooker Ben Mutch but were struggling to win good ball. A 5-metre scrum saw the Wells pack shunted backwards and a pushover try conceded on 25 minutes, 26-3.

From then on Wells had no answer to Wimbledon’s slick running game and were punished with a further five tries before half-time, resulting in a deficit of 61-3 at that point in the game.  Wells made some enforced changes with Max McCabe coming on for Richard Webster.   On 45 minutes Wimbledon were able to field a Wells clearing kick and pass the ball down the line to winger Jamie Millais to score, 66-3.  Wimbledon continued to play simple rugby with the backs using the ball well to create space and overlaps, Taylor crossing for his second try of the game on 50 minutes, 73 -3.  Wimbledon were now on top in the scrum and while Wells were competitive in broken play poor passing and decision making under pressure let them down.  A yellow card for the Wimbledon loose head for dangerous play did not weaken the home side who set up a driving maul on 63 minutes to score another easy try, 78 – 3.  Wimbledon then had time to put centre Paul Hendry in for a final try and successful conversion, 87 – 3.


Wells entertain Havant RFC at home next weekend 3pm kick off


Alan Skinner

Squad Photo From Top Left: Bill Gillespie, Akbar Kyshtoobaev, Ben Rothwell, Bertie Brown, Isaac Hawken, Freddie Jones, Grig Antonovics, George Crossland, Charlie Mitchell, Archie Steger, Dylan Armstrong, James Croker, Flynn Hawken From Bottom left: Kit Morgan, James Litchfield, Albie Andrews, Jake Ward, Hamish Weaver, Jared Van Zijl, Ollie Rigby, Quinn Massey, Joshua Hacker

Tunbridge Wells RFC Under 14s crowned Kent Cup Winners


Squad Photo

From Top Left: Bill Gillespie, Akbar Kyshtoobaev, Ben Rothwell, Bertie Brown, Isaac Hawken, Freddie Jones, Grig Antonovics, George Crossland, Charlie Mitchell, Archie Steger, Dylan Armstrong, James Croker, Flynn Hawken

From Bottom left: Kit Morgan, James Litchfield, Albie Andrews, Jake Ward, Hamish Weaver, Jared Van Zijl, Ollie Rigby, Quinn Massey, Joshua Hacker

Not Pictured: Sam Smilowski

TWRFC Under14’s have won the 2021/22 Kent Cup. 

The Competition took place over three weekends under the “waterfall” format, with teams streamed by ability to play the most appropriate teams by the time they reach the last weekend. This keeps all teams engaged in the competition until the final round of matches and encourages player engagement and enjoyment.

In the opening weekend, the Wells’ squad met Gravesend, Ashford, Sittingbourne and Aylesford Bulls, winning all four games by an aggregate 81-0. The following week saw them take on three new teams: Tonbridge Juddians, Old Elthamians and Dartford Valley, all of whom would also have progressed with winning records from Week One. An aggregate score of 37-5 saw them then progress to a Finals Day Cup group held just up the road at TJs.

The hosts, Tunbridge Wells, Southwark Tigers and Old Alleynians represented the 4 leading clubs in Kent and South London and played a “round-robin” group to determine the Kent Cup winners. The opening match saw a dominant performance over Southwark Tigers, ending in a 24-0 victory. The Wells had warmed up well and the forwards were strong in all the set-pieces. A solid scrum coupled with a very effective line-out and rolling maul, offered a reliable platform for the backs. This produced four lovely tries with two for Jared Van Zijl and one each for the twins Isaac and Flynn Hawken. The front row of Bill Gillespie, Ben Rothwell and George Crossland looked rock solid, with Charlie Mitchell and Bertie Brown as constant pests at the breakdown.

The second game was a local “derby” against TJs. There is a strong and healthy rivalry between these two neighbours, and this was to be a game that lived up to the billing as Wells looked to recover from a recent defeat to their rivals….and “bounce back” they did with real passion and belief. The match started as a close and balanced game, but it wasn’t long before the power of the boys from St Marks began to show. After 5 minutes, the 6ft 5 colossus Wells no.8, Freddie Jones, picked up the ball in midfield and stretched his legs all the way to the try line, which James Croker converted. Hamish Weaver at outside half was now starting to control the game and Jake Ward and Albie Andrews started to cause real problems for the home team. When they were awarded a line-out on the home side’s 5 metre line the visitors deployed the driving maul, with Grig Antonovics providing the momentum that saw Akbar Kyshtoobaev could go over for the try. His delight was clear to see as he set off on his celebratory dance! Flynn Hawken completed the scoring, with the ever-willing Kit Morgan in support. This 17-0 win saw Tunbridge Wells move onto their final match against Old Alleynians.

The ‘final’ game was the meeting of the two undefeated sides and was poised to be a belter. The sun was shining, the pitches were perfect, and the players could not wait. Wells had vocal travelling support on the touchline, as well as three of their injured players: Ollie Rigby, Joshua Hacker and Dylan Armstrong. A great demonstration of the “One Squad, One Club” mentality. After a competitive opening period, Wells got a scrum on the OAs 5 metre line. Whilst the half backs loaded one side, Freddie Jones picked and went on the blind side with the support of Quinn Massey and Jared Van Zijl, leading to a try for Jared. However, there was a reason that OAs were in the final and they responded robustly to make the score 5-5 at half-time.

It became something of a war of attrition as 10 games in three weeks started to take its toll on committed bodies. The depth of the Wells squad was now being tested as they lost Crossland, Morgan and James Litchfield, but it was their discipline as much as it was their resilience which now came to the fore. As the OA’s penalty count started to rise, the trusty boot of Croker added two penalties to make it 11-5 with just a few minutes left. The supporters (and coaches!) nerves were soothed when a breakdown on the right touchline saw the ball secured and then spread superbly across the backline for Flynn Hawken to power over for the winning try. A resounding 16-5 win to see Tunbridge Wells deservedly crowned Kent Cup Under 14s champions.

Mike Rigby, Chairman of TWRFC said: “This is a fantastic achievement for our Under 14s and is the culmination of their hard work during the entire season. We pride ourselves on being a volunteer run community sports club which offers best in class coaching across the age groups. It is great to see those volunteers delivering such a fantastic experience for these kids here. Well done boys”. A note of thanks must go to the entire 54 strong Under 14 playing squad, the coaches and of course the parents for unwavering support for TWRFC. Tunbridge Wells RFC is a volunteer run community rugby club whose senior side plays at Level 5 in the London & SE Premier League and has over 775 youth members. They offer sport for all at their home ground at St Marks where they offer rugby and cricket for ladies, men, minis and vets.


Played in bright dry conditions with a strong easterly breeze two sides who have struggled with injuries and availabilities all season met for what was clearly going to be a very competitive game.

Wells kicked off up the hill and immediately dominated  both in terms of possession and speed at the breakdown. With many regulars on the long term injury list the town side fielded no less than 5 wingers with two- Matt Spicer and Richard Webster playing in the second row and the back row respectively.

Wells were in the lead within a minute as fly half Finlay White struck a penalty from in front 3-0  and Wells continued to occupy the CS half of the pitch as they moved the ball quickly away from breakdowns. With only 8 minutes on the clock the home side went further into the lead after a clean break from Jack Smith saw him feed scrum half Tom West who went in for the try converted by White 10-0. Wells demonstrated continued appetite for the game taking only another 2 minutes for the pack to exchange 7 or 8 passes before the ball found full back Max Douch on a straight run to the line and Wells’ second try 15-0 after 10 minutes. CS at this point had hardly touched the ball and Wells came straight back on the attack from the kick off Skipper Mike Doherty making the first of a number of clean breaks and CS committing an offence in the tackle to give White the chance to add 3 points to the lead on 15 minutes 18-0.

Sadly despite Wells having at least another 3  clear-cut  chances of scoring as they continued to dominate in the second quarter, sloppy passing and ball retention prevented any addition to the score despite several further clean breaks from M Doherty and the Wells scrum dominating proceedings in the tight.

Gradually CS started to increase their share of the ball and show that in the wide channels they had the edge if they could get the ball there. Against the run of play CS got the ball wide on 20 minutes to left wing Luke Trigg who got around the back of the Wells defence to score out wide 18-5.

The rest of the half until halftime approached saw Wells not able to produce the speed of ball or accuracy of passing as the pack continued to give the side the majority of the ball. With 5 minutes to go to the break CS got into the Wells 22 and rolled a maul over the line for their hooker to score with their fly half converting 18-12 and with a minute of injuries on the clock back they came again as Trigg intercepted 30 meters from his own line and just made it to the try line to make the half time score 18-17 with CS winning the try count 3-2.

The first 20 minutes of the second half saw parity in the loose, Wells dominating the scrummage but losing the lineouts. Nevertheless the forwards were able to provide a reasonable supply of ball but a large amount of this was relatively aimlessly kicked to the opposition to launch counter attacks. However, Wells started to get on top again and on 60 minutes White hit another penalty to increase the lead to 21-17. The home side continued to press and on 68 minutes Mike Doherty got away again making 70 metres before being pulled down just short of the line before a CS second row was penalised for an offence on the floor and shown a yellow card. White kicked a simple penalty for 24-17. With 5 minutes go White had another chance 5 meters to the right but the easterly  breeze pushed the attempt wide of the posts.

The minutes continued to tick away but CS now had the smell of victory in their nostrils as they launched a wave of counter attacks getting the ball wide on 79 minutes to score on the right and the conversion successful from the touchline to bring parity at 24-24. Into injury time and CS continued to press up the right and after shrugging off a number of tackles the CS No8  Mike Azilli managed to get the ball down in the corner in the 86th minute to wild acclaim from his team and the total disappointment of the home team to pull off what had looked an unlikely win 25 -29. As the conversion failed the final whistle followed.

Wells will be disappointed with this loss as they had every opportunity to put the game beyond CS in the first 35 minutes. That they didn’t was down to handling in midfield and perhaps trying too hard to force the game.

Things will not be any easier next week when club stalwart and No 8 Nick Doherty marries fiancee Chloe and a number of the squad are involved as the rest travel to Wimbledon who are never an easy prospect at home. KO 3 00PM.

Squad: Ben Mutch, Luke Hawkins, Gabriel O’Brien, Matt Spicer, Toby Talbot, Rich Webster, Jake Smith, Nick Doherty, Tom west, Fin White, Ben Day, Mike Doherty,  Jack Smith, Harvey Colangelo, Max Douch. Cam Follows, Jason Lord, Charlie Rigby.

Roger Clarke

Celebrating the life of Robbie Sloan

Celebrating the life of Robbie Sloan, Tuesday 22nd March, 11am, Wealden Crematorium TN21 0FX and afterwards at Tunbridge Wells RFC, TN2 5LS

It is with great sadness that the club has to announce the passing of Robbie Sloan.

Robbie was part of the club for over 45 years and a has been a true supporter on and off the field. In his playing days he represented the club as loose head prop for the 1st XV for over a decade. He was ahead of his time being a very mobile front row forward and was the 1st XV top try scorer one season. 

Since retiring from the game due to injury, he became an enthusiastic supporter and could often be seen (and heard) on the touchline or in the bar. 

A chef by profession, he and his brother David were proprietors of The Royal Wells Inn, on Mount Ephraim, until they sold it in 2002. The hotel’s bar inevitably became the number one watering hole in the town for the club’s players and supporters for many years.

An immensely social, fun, passionate and compassionate man, he will be hugely missed by his wife Mel, brother David, children Matt, Tim & Hannah and his five grandchildren Tom, Sam, Ollie, Maisie and George.

His family welcome anyone who knew Robbie to remember him at his funeral and help celebrate with them at the club afterwards.


North Walsham RFC 89  Tunbridge Wells RFC 7

North Walsham RFC 89  Tunbridge Wells RFC 7

Tunbridge Wells travelled to North Walsham in North Norfolk for the first time on Saturday to meet a home side smarting from their defeat by Sevenoaks the previous weekend. The Wells went down to their biggest defeat in recent years beaten by the quality of the opposition players and the pace of the game.

Wells kicked off into the wind on a pitch made for running rugby. North Walsham were quickly on the attack and with slick passing and aggressive recycling their open side flanker, Charlie Fethney, was put into space on the Wells 22 and sprinted through to score with 3 minutes played. The try was converted by the home side no.10 Matt Hodgson – a player of quality who would go on to be a major influencer in the game.

From the kick off Wells secured a scrum, but the ball was knocked on from the subsequent lineout and from the following scrum the North Walsham no. 8 picked up and passed to Hodgson who ran a clever line to avoid the Wells defence and score. He was successful with the conversion; in fact he was only unsuccessful with one conversion out of the 13 attempted in the afternoon.

Wells were soon under further pressure defending a line out 5m from their line. The home side attacked and despite the visitors resolute defence the North Walsham hooker, Ethan Sikorski, forced his way over under the posts and Wells found themselves 21-0 down after 11 minutes.

There followed some encouraging Wells play led by the excellent Nick Doherty who made powerful mazy runs all afternoon and was the team’s outstanding player. Wells came close to scoring but a poor wide pass let Walsham off the hook. Following a lineout, the home side worked the ball skillfully downfield and a clean break by their inside centre created space for their scrumhalf Jake Duffield to score between the posts, 28-0 after 18 minutes. The try bonus points secured, Callum Anthony, the other centre crossed the Wells line for their 5th try and a lead of 33 points on 20 minutes.

Tunbridge Wells now staged a mini rally when good work down the left hand side resulted in Wells winger Jack Smith going over for a try converted well, into the wind, by Jack Anderson, 33-7.

North Walsham scored three further tries by halftime, playing through their 10 who was instrumental in them all. An inside pass put their blind side flanker in; a sharp break released their no.8 to score his second try, and a further decisive break and inside pass resulted in a second try for Jake Duffield. Despite a score of 54-7 at halftime it is worth noting that the Wells side at no time gave up, their spirits remained high and in patches they had been competitive.

The second half started brightly for Wells who lost Max Hobbs (replaced by Charlie Rigby) to injury in the 51stminute and it was not until the 10th minute of the half that NW scored again. It was an excellent try by the winger Shaun Blyth who received the ball in his own half and scythed his way though the Wells defence to score a try, 61-7. From the kick off good NW interplay allowed the no.8 and Captain, Will Hodgson, to complete his hat trick of tries. 68-7 on 57 minutes.

Wells then stole a lineout and an infringement at the resulting ruck led to a NW player heading for the sin bin. But even reducing the home side to 14 men could not prevent them from scoring a further three converted tries before the final whistle. 89-7 at full time.

Wells now have rest week before meeting CS Stags at St. Marks on 26 March.

Alan Skinner





As you are aware we submitted a planning application to both Tunbridge Wells and Wealden Borough Councils in October last year. The applications are considered simultaneously by both authorities. The planners and a number of the statutory consultees have raised some queries and  requests for additional information which we are in the process of answering. This has involved some further studies and reports to be commissioned.

We anticipate all of this work to have been concluded before Easter following which we hope to be able to move towards a committee date at which the application will be considered.

I would also like to mention that the support you offered on our planning application in the form of supportive comments was extremely helpful and will, we hope, contribute towards a successful outcome

We are continuing with this process and will keep you updated on progress here.



Over the past five years, the Board has fielded enquiries from developers interested in the land that TWRFC occupies. Every approach has been analysed with the help of experienced land developers, lawyers, planning consultants and contractors close to the club. On each occasion it was obvious quickly that the developers had not done their due diligence or were just prospecting. We have therefore never considered or opened a detailed discussion with any party.

However, last year, the club was approached by a developer that had done some serious research and background on our site. With the help of a very experienced team from within the club and supplemented by some paid for diligence by Savills, the board are in the process of considering a proposal for the land at St Marks.

This would mean the possibility of us relocating to an alternative, and much larger, site; offering the club the opportunity to design the layout of the site and the clubhouse to our own specification.  Along with a larger custom-built clubhouse, we could have parking for several hundred cars, pitches (adult rugby, youth rugby and cricket) and an alternative grass pitch. This would enable us to have a community based, multi-sport site that would be best in class in the County.



The Board is communicating with the TWRFC membership today to assure you that we are continuing to progress our plans for an alternative grass pitch but that the possibility of relocation is also under discussion.  We are completing due diligence on each of these options so we are able to present one to the membership based on the long term goal to continue to provide the best community sporting facilities for our members long into the future.

You will understand the complexity and confidential nature of these discussions and whilst we appreciate you may have lots of questions, I would respectfully ask that you bear with us until we are in a position to offer more detail in the not too distant future.

Mike Rigby
TWRFC Chairman
On behalf of the TWRFC Board

Match Report – Sevenoaks 36 Tunbridge Wells 0

It was warm and dry ahead of the second A21 Derby match of the season…… At least it was in the clubhouse where a large contingent of Tunbridge Wells supporters joined the merry throng of 90 that sat down to a scrumptious chicken curry lunch with our rugby-friends at Sevenoaks.

Early success was registered here with three of the four raffle prizes being bagged by Wells-dominated tables, and I will be very surprised if the blue riband prize of a bottle of Glenmorangie left the club intact having been won by the table containing Messrs Fleming and Whiting……

However, the weather outside were as far from “warm and dry” as could be imagined, with torrential rain and a fierce gale force (if not quite Storm Eunice) wind howling down the pitch. Clearly not conducive to good, open error-free rugby, and certainly not helpful for your correspondent who remains steadfastly “old skool” in using pen and paper when taking match report notes.

Wells arrived at the Paddock with confidence boosted after a shock 23-20 win over league-leaders Hertford the week before, but that this meant they still sat 13th in the league, 11 places behind their hosts, simply served to underline their under-dog status – especially after a humbling 0-45 defeat at home to Sevenoaks earlier in the season. Despite the atrocious conditions it is testament to the quality of the players on the pitch that a competitive game was to unfold and, and whilst Sevenoaks was certainly deserving winners, one could argue that the score line was perhaps a shade flattering in the end.

It is to the credit of both clubs that the core of each squad consists of locally raised and nurtured rugby players. Sevenoaks have added some outstanding overseas quality to the local foundation, and although Wells have recruited several young players as part of this season’s rebuilding process, it was striking at 11 of the 18 match-day squad have come through the ranks at St Marks.

Oaks kicked off with the wind directly behind them and were to spend the next 40 minutes pretty much camped in the Tunbridge Wells half. The visitors were dealt a significant early blow when exciting new hooker Ben Mutch (fresh from a man of the match debut performance last week having joined from TJs) seemingly broke his nose after just three minutes. This meant an early introduction for Cameron Follows and saw the multi-talented Nick Doherty takeover lineout throwing duties.

An ominous early 30-metre rolling maul saw the home team deep in the Wells 22, although to be fair the visitors by and large defended this highly effective and efficient part of the Oaks game well. A strong scrum gave impetus to the home side’s attack and scrum-half Henry Galligan was able to dummy and cross the line for the opening try on 9 minutes. Ben Adams was unable to convert from out wide. 5-0.

Wells were fiercely competitive at the breakdown throughout and shortly after the restart Follows secured an excellent jackal to earn his side a penalty. With the wind testing even the most experienced of hookers, the visitors’ lineout was under pressure, and this made it difficult to build sustained territory or keep possession, as was needed in the face of the gale. Scrum-half Tom West executed a series of good and productive box kicks but whenever Sevenoaks had the ball they were able to gain significant yardage using the boot with the wind and, despite the conditions, to their credit by often looking to play wide with the ball in hand too.

On 19 minutes Oaks skipper Nigel Gumbleton made a strong charge through the midfield and despite being hauled down short, quick ball saw Adams release to the overlapping Awa Morris to touchdown for a second home score. Again, the wide-out conversion proved virtually impossible, but it was now 10-0.

Wells had now been forced into a further re-jigging of their resources when a rib injury saw flanker Jake Smith depart, to be replaced by ‘birthday-boy’ Richard Webster. Mutch now returned to bolster the pack, but his valiant efforts were to prove short-lived when an inability to stem the blood flow from his nose saw him substituted again, and this time permanently.

The Tunbridge wells front five of Charley Smith, Mutch/Follows, Gabriel O’Brien, Jack Lord and Tom Pithouse worked tenaciously throughout, and the scrum was now gaining parity. As the pitch turned into the proverbial mud-bath, Oaks continued to pound away at the Wells line but one or two misplaced kicks, coupled with some fierce defensive hits held off the hosts until the 38th minute.

A robust Fred Richardson run gave the home team good field position and eventually lead to an attacking five-metre lineout. Despite terrific defensive work from both Pithouse and Number 8 Doherty, flanker Matt McRae was able to burrow his way to the line from close-range, and this time Adams was able to convert. 17-0.

Shortly afterwards Wells had their first attacking line out in the Oaks 22 but when the ball fell lose it was former Wells product Scott Sedgwick who seized on it before making 20 metres up field. Oaks looked to go wide to force home their advantage but were thwarted by good defensive work from a combination of wing Max Hobbs and centre Rich Murray.


It was typical of Wells luck this season that when the players returned for the second half there has been a noticeable drop in both wind and rain. However, the underfoot conditions were almost unplayable by now and one can only tip one’s cap to all 36 players for their endeavour.

What the visitors needed was to start the second 40 minutes on the front foot, if only to give them some breathing space. Sadly, with the ball exhibiting Imperial Leather like qualities (and other soap brands are available), a mistake behind the Wells scrum saw Sevenoaks recover the ball. After a driving run by Drew Narbey-Nimeti, Gumbleton was on hand to power over between the posts. Adams converted and after 42 minutes it was now 24-0 with the try bonus point secured.

West, his outside half Fin White, and skipper Mike Doherty at inside centre tried their best to engineer better field position for the boys from St Marks, but both kicking and running the ball was now proving troublesome for both teams. Doherty also made one particularly huge hit on ex-Wells centre Shaydn Osgood to “welcome” his former team mate to the field when he made an appearance as a replacement. The phrase a “war of attrition” can hardly have been better utilised in a game of rugby.

An injury to Hobbs saw Webster revert to his more accustomed wing position and a first cap from the bench for Max McCabe who slotted into the back row. He announced his arrival with a superb chop tackle (with several more to follow) and hopefully he enjoyed his first taste of rugby at this level – even if all he could probably taste at this stage was Knole Paddock mud!

Oaks remained dominant in terms of possession and on 52 minutes it took a superb Toby Wallace tackle followed by a 40-metre West clearance kick to alleviate the pressure.  Murray and wing Max Douch also made important tackles to keep the home side at bay.

Those of you have followed “my work” over the years will, will know that I have a particular passion for a well delivered rolling maul. Indeed, in my many years of involvement with local rugby, it is Sevenoaks who have often provided the “thing of beauty” that such a set piece can provide – whether at Junior or Senior level. However, it only earns a team 5 points from a try (or perhaps 7 if a penalty try ensues) whether performed in an aesthetically pleasing way, or as was the case on 60 minutes, in a more functional and, dare I say it “ugly” manner. On this occasion it was Oaks prop James Simmons who benefited in scoring a try, which capped off a fine all-round performance by the loose-head. 29-0.

Having failed to register a point in the season’s first encounter in October, Wells were determined to try and breach the Oaks line. This effort was never more exemplified than in a rumbustious 20-metre pick up and drive from the base of the scrum by Wells’ man of the match Nick Doherty.  Sadly, the ensuing possession was lost and Oaks were able to launch a counter-attack engineered by their man of the match outside-half Patrick Pellegrini. Great covering work by the industrious Lord and hard-working flanker Toby Talbot was needed to bring this attack to a halt.

However, when an off the ball skirmish saw the referee halt play with Wells in possession, it was to the incredulity of the travelling support that the match was re-started with an attacking Oaks scrum. This was a tough day for the “merry whistle-blower”, Matt Rozier, who did his best despite playing shirts becoming increasingly caked in mud, thereby making offsides difficult to differentiate, and also several “little” wet weather knock-ons taking place on his blindside. This was a day when he could certainly have used the assistance of qualified Assistant Referees, but we do not have that luxury at Level Five. Instead, he only had the urgings of the vocal touchline support, and I am not quite sure how unbiased this advice was………

From this scrum, the outstanding Pellegrini scythed through the visiting defence before drawing full-back Wallace and passing to his open-side flanker McRae, who galloped in for his second try of the day. That the final pass was more NFL then RFU should take nothing away from the outside half’s overall performance, nor should it from McRae’s fine supporting line. Adams added the conversion to make it 36-0 on 73 minutes.

Four minutes later the game was over – inside the full 80 minutes but perhaps a sensible call when one of the Wells players managed to tackle his own man, so indistinguishable were the playing shirts by this time!

Squad: Toby Wallace; Max Douch, Rich Murray, Mike Doherty (Captain), Max Hobbs (Max McCabe); Fin White, Tom West; Charley Smith, Ben Mutch (Cameron Follows), Gabriel O’Brien, Jack Lord, Tom Pithouse, Jake Smith (Richard Webster), Toby Talbot, Nick Doherty.

This result sees Sevenoaks maintain second spot in the league, just one point behind leaders Dorking and Wells’ players now have a week off to regroup and try and rest some battered bodies ahead of their next game which is another Kent Derby at home to a much-improved Westcombe Park on Saturday 5th March. Kick-off will be 2.30 at St Marks and all support would be gratefully received.


Tunbridge Wells RFC 23 – 20 Hertford RFC


Tunbridge Wells welcomed table topping Hertford on a bright crisp Saturday to St Marks. Since the early season encounter, which Hertford won 17-8, the two sides have had very different seasons. Hertford came to St Marks looking to continue their 13 match winning streak and secure five points to maintain their top spot. Wells were looking to build on another strong performance the week before, where unfortunately they came away without the deserved win.

Despite a number of changes to the opposition team, the Wells injury list continued to hamper the home side, with 12 first team squad players unavailable this week. Wells started positively, winning a penalty and kicking for the corner. A sharp first line out and driving maul led to James McKeown crashing over the line for the first try. Jack Anderson added the extras, giving Wells a 7-0 lead in the opening minutes – for the first time this season, it was Hertford starting slowly in the early encounters, rather than Wells. Unfortunately Well’s injury list was added to in the first two minutes, with McKeown departing with a hamstring injury. Cameron Follows came into the back row, with Charley Smith moving to loosehead.     

Wells continued to put pressure on the Hertford team, nullifying their big ball carriers with a strong defensive effort. This continued pressure was rewarded, with Anderson, who had a good performance from the boot all game, adding a further three points, extending the lead to 10.

Wells continued to pressure the Hertford defensive line, with a series of strong carries and attacking play. This again led to a further infringement, with Anderson adding the three, to give Wells a 13 point lead at half time.

Wells and the home supporters were expecting the league leaders to come back with some fight in the second half and the opening score was almost certain to be key. The early encounters carried on the physicality of the first half and a rare penalty in the Wells half gave the visitors the first opportunity to add to the scoreboard, which they duly did – 13-3.

However the home side, buoyed by the strong home crowd, continued to assert attacking pressure which was rewarded with another penalty within the range of Anderson, who duly stepped up and put the lead back to 13 points.

The home crowd did not have to wait long for an additional score, with the first try of the second half coming from a rampaging run from the home favourite Nick Doherty, with an offload to Finn White, who was able to dot down under the posts. Anderson added the extras to extend the lead – 23-3.

Hertford began to build the pressure from here with their big ball carriers making inroads into the strong defensive set of the Wells. The Wells defensive line eventually succumbing to concede from a cross field kick – 23-10.

Hertford continued to carry strongly as the game moved into the final quarter, with the Wells crowd hoping the home side could buck this season’s trend and hold out for the win. A period of pressure in the Wells 22 resulted in a knock on, giving the home team a chance to clear their lines. However the kick was gathered by the opposition, who span the ball wide to score in the corner. 23-15.

Hertford’s dogged reserve began to show but the physicality of the game was taking its toll on both teams, with the benches emptied and injuries mounting.

With the clock ticking down into what surely was the final few minutes, the defensive line of Wells was broken again with Hertford scoring in the corner. In a rather bizarre move, Hertford declined the kick, opting to maximise the final mins. 23-20.

From the resulting kick off Wells continued to pressure Hertford – a series of scrums followed in the ensuing minutes – Hertford scrum, Wells scrum, Hertford scrum – all in the Hertford 22.

A turnover to Wells allowed them to wind down the last few seconds on the clock, before putting the ball out to earn the win.

A superb defensive effort from 1-15 for Wells sealed the victory, giving the players a much deserved home win and something for the supporters to truly enjoy.

This Saturday, Wells make the short journey to second place Sevenoaks for the second part of this season’s A21 derby. All support welcome!


Stu Nicholls