Category: Senior

Recruiting: Clubhouse Manager

This position requires an individual with excellent organisational, practical, and personal skills. As well as running the various aspects of the club outlined below, the candidate will play an integral part in advising and assisting the board in identifying and developing growth opportunities, both during and outside of the rugby season.

Details:

  • At all times the individual will represent the club in a professional and friendly manner, in line with the club’s values, as well as providing a visible presence in line with hours to be confirmed. 

Core goals:

  • Work based on a policy of ‘rarely shut’:- Ensure the clubhouse is always fully operational and ready for use during and out of season. (Varied times will apply)
  • Identify, develop, and promote commercial opportunities where the club facilities can be utilised both during and outside of the rugby season
  • Continuously explore and implement cost savings, efficiencies, and service improvements and always deliver the highest professional standards and quality of service

General duties/responsibilities:

  • Take ownership of the club calendar and work with all parties to ensure the club is always adequately staffed and stocked for all events and ready to generate income at every opportunity
  • Recruit and manage any necessary staff (including contracts, training, and payment) in line with a budget pre-agreed with the board.   
  • Manage upkeep of the clubhouse including all necessary annual maintenance of services within the clubhouse (including compliance with all H&S obligations), as well as the upkeep of the immediate area surrounding the clubhouse, including car parks.
  • Oversee the upkeep/maintenance of all the playing surfaces at the club including liaising with the council and/or any other external contractors.
  • Prepare a report for each board meeting giving a full update all aspects covered by the role

Bar / Café / Catering:

  • Oversee the running of the club’s bar (in partnership with the bar manager), kitchen, and café facilities: – i.e., Equipment servicing, Ordering, Deliveries, Stock keeping, Storage, cellarage, banking etc.
  • Maintain all standards associated with a ‘public house’, including product excellence.
  • Achieve value for money in all purchasing, in accordance with any protocols laid down by the Committee.
  • Keep accurate records of all stock – (drink, food, clothing etc)

Future Development:

  • Identify, promote, and implement any commercial opportunities where the club facilities can be utilised during the season in a way that fits with the club ethos.
  • Identify, promote, and implement any commercial opportunities where the club facilities can be utilised outside of the regular season in a way that fits with the club ethos. 

The role will report to Director of House & Grounds

Working hours to be confirmed but likely up to 30hrs per week during the Rugby season (September to May) and up to 15hrs per week during the off-season.

The position offers a competitive salary/benefits package as well as a potential performance related bonus.

Applications should be sent to Nickvano@twrfc.com

22/23 Membership

With the Rugby season no longer looking quite so distant; the board has set membership fees for the 22/23 season as below.

Membership of TWRFC brings a number of benefits including: the right to apply for clubs allocation of international tickets; hire of the clubhouse hire; attending club lunches/events and bring guests; and of course for playing members a little bit of rugby. The exec have also decided to introduce a discount for members in the upstairs bar; more details on this to follow shortly.

Senior Playing Members£90
Family Membership£170 Single Child
£220 Multiple Children
Social Membership & VPs£90

Further details can be found on the membership page.

The £10 membership increase reflects the additional ongoing costs the club expects to incur due to higher cost of services and ground rates at St Marks’.

All family and senior playing members will shortly receive a payment request via Spond; we ask that this is paid prior to the start of the season (Sept. 4th). New players are very welcome to have two trial sessions prior to joining and paying membership subscriptions. It’s not easy for Spond to track this – so please do bear with me if it chases before you have finished your trial.

For Social members, and VPs, it’s easiest for me if you are able to pay either via spond or direct-debit. Existing direct debits will be updated to reflect the 22/23 subscription shortly (plan members will be notified by goCardless when this happens). For new social members, or those switching to DD you can subscript to our plan on goGardless subscribe here.

Tunbridge Wells RFC Youth section has a policy that rugby should be accessible to all, irrelevant of financial or economic background. In cases of economic hardship the club is able to offer alternative payment schemes or reduced fees on a case by case basis; you are also able to apply to the Anthony Clarke memorial fund for support. Please contact the team manager at your age group who will then be able to discuss this on a confidential basis with the membership secretary to seek approval for lower or no fees dependent on circumstances.

Martin Croker
Membership Secretary
membership@twrfc.com

Geoff Casely 07/01/1969 – 10/07/22

For those of you that have not already heard, the club is deeply saddened to have to announce that Geoff Casely passed away peacefully in his sleep last week. Club member and close friend Mav Anderson has kindly written a tribute from him and on behalf of everyone at TWRFC…..

“Geoff was a long-standing member of the club and many of you would have played alongside him in the minis, juniors, senior sides (1-6) and also the Vets. On the pitch I will remember him as a formidable second row/back row player who loved to make big hits at Rucks and in Tackles and I have many fond memories of playing alongside him in my late teens and early twenties, notably in an unbeaten season for the 2nd team in the mid 90s and also for the first team in the early 2000s. I have always lovingly known and referred to Geoff simply as Unit.

Some of you may not be aware but throughout his teenage years and twenties Geoff was also a very successful swimmer and water polo player representing Tunbridge Wells Monson club, winning many Medals at National and European level. He was also a very successful martial artist being a black belt in several forms and again won medals at International, European and world level.

Geoff was a legendary TWRFC Tourist who would always be one of the first to get his place reserved as soon as a tour was announced. He was never afraid to take his fines and would always fully engage in all tour antics. Once he had retired from playing Geoff was a loyal supporter of the club who would regularly be found on the touchline, at the pre match lunches or just in the bar with his friends enjoying being part of the club. I was reminded of a story today that summed up how much TWRFC meant to Geoff. On his wedding day to his first wife, Geoff got married at lunch time and then went to the club and played rugby in the afternoon. I am not sure even the most loyal of us would dare have tried that on our wedding day.

In life Geoff was a gentle giant, he was kind and had the most wonderful warm and welcoming personality, he would do anything to help anyone. He was a wonderful story teller with an extraordinary ability to recount tales of games we had played together or drunken nights we had been on many, many years ago.

Geoff had been through some tough times over the past few years but I am so proud of how he managed to pull himself back to a good place. He had recently completed a mental health first aider course to assist with his life coaching business which he set up as he was passionate about helping others, who were going through difficult times.

In a recent message he sent to me, it simply said “The Unit is Back” after knowing all he had been through, I will take great heart in knowing that in the end he died peacefully in his sleep at peace with himself, he won and he never gave up.

On behalf of all of TWRFC I would like to send our deepest condolences to Geoff`s sister, Venetia and his children: Imogen, Sebastian, Matilda and Tabatha, may they find comfort in knowing how much their brother/dad meant to us at the club and that there will always be a warm and welcoming place up at St Marks for them to come up to, to share some lovely stories of their brother and dad.

Rest in Peace my friend”

Maverick Anderson 14th July 2022

Mike Hathaway Returns to TWRFC

We are delighted to announce the newest member of the TWRFC Coaching Group ahead of the 22/23 season as Mike Hathaway joins as 1st XV Forwards Coach.

Mike started his rugby at Tunbridge Wells, playing all through the age groups from U6’s to 1st XV where he was a key member of the team that secured back to back promotions and a cup win at Twickenham. Mike has unfortunately had to hang up the boots due to a shoulder injury and is now fully committed to his role as Forwards coach ahead of the 22/23 season.

Mike said “It’s brilliant to come back home to Tunbridge Wells. It’s a great club that has even greater aspirations, and although it’s a shame my return can’t be as a player as once hoped, that hasn’t curbed my excitement in getting on board as a forwards coach. It was a pleasure to be approached by Simon Jervis to take on the role and its great to be learning from the experience that Jervo, Ben and Stretts bring. Despite last years results we have an extremely talented squad and I am chomping at the bit to help support this young group of lads achieve and play at the best level that they can. Bring on the 2022-23 season. COYW.”

Mike Rigby, Club Chairman said “I am delighted to welcome Hathers back to St Marks. I fully encouraged him to go and challenge himself to play at the highest level he could and told him he would be welcome ‘home’ whenever he was ready. I’m delighted he’s back and ready to make a huge difference to TWRFC’.

The 22/23 Coaching Group for Tunbridge Wells:

Director of Rugby  – Simon Jervis

Forwards Coach – Benjamin Kayser

Forwards Coach – Mike Hathaway

Backs Coach – David Strettle

Backs & Skills Coach – Chaz Spence

S&C – Hamzat Ahmed

Autumn International Tickets

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

Schedule:

  • 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

Argentina

Premium £122 – 137

Cat 1 £111 – 122

Cat 2 £101– 111

Cat 3 £90 – 96

Cat 4 £70 – 75

Japan

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:

Montgos.89a@hotmail.com

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

WIMBELDON RFC 87 TUNBRIDGE WELLS RFC 3

 

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

TUNBRIDGE WELLS RFC 1ST XV   25  CS STAGS 1863 RFC 1ST XV   29

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

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

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.

HALF TIME 17-0

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.

GRAHAM WITHERS