Following positive feedback after the April newsletter, here is the latest news from around the club.
As I write, lockdown measures are beginning to ease and there’s a whiff of optimism in the air that we can see our families again soon and maybe have some rugby later in the year. Regarding the latter, there are various law changes being proposed to reduce the amount of contact between players during a match, some of which could speed up the game and become a feature, even after social distancing has ended. Happily I don’t think that the proposal to have uncontested scrums will be one of the changes, no one wants to see props and hookers become an endangered species and I’m sure The World Wildlife Fund would have something to say about that!
The club committee are still working hard to safeguard the future of the club during this period when we have virtually no income so I’d like to pay tribute to the committee and thank them for their hard work keeping us afloat during these difficult times. Obviously, we are not out of the woods yet financially, especially as work on the club and grounds continues to make sure we are ready to react quickly when we are able to reopen our doors. In addition to the work on the pitches I reported last time, we are decorating the hall and carrying out various other small projects to improve the club. This all comes at cost so I make no apologies for asking for our members and supporters help again, especially as it seems unlikely that we will not collect any playing membership fees before we know when we can start playing again. There are two ways you can help:
- Make a donation, small or large to the club using bank transfer to the bank details below.
- Join our 100 Club- At the present time the 100 club has less than 100 members paying £5.00 per month, half of the money received is paid out in prizes (£100 is the monthly first prize, which will grow if the membership increases). The target is to double the membership and prizes so please join if you can spare £5.00 per month (multiple entries are allowed!).
If you would like to join the 100 Club or make a donation, please follow these instructions:
100 Club: Visit your bank online and set up a monthly standing order for Dorchester RFC for £5.00 (Sort code 309269 account number 00397293) Please put DRFC100 in the reference section. You can also join by post: Visit the DRFC club website 100 club page https://dorchesterrfc.rfu.club/100-club there you can download a standing order form you can either print off and post to your bank or email to your bank.
Donations: Simply make an online bank transfer to Sort code 309269 account number 00397293 with ‘CV19appeal’ in the reference section. Please email Hazel Hoskin email@example.com, our very hardworking treasurer, if you would like to donate by cheque.
Important for 100 Club entrants: Once you have either set up or your standing order or sent your form to your bank you should email firstname.lastname@example.org to let our membership secretary know you have joined.
Tim Beavis has been investigating what has been happening to the team that won much and gained many plaudits under the coaching of Mike Sprules. Here is his report:
You may have seen in some of the online rugby media outlets a piece about Orlando Bailey one of our crop of youth players who have been lucky enough to move onto academies at pro clubs and represent their countries at age group level.
As a club we are blessed with a great youth set up and have had some fine coaches over the years to guide them to fulfil their talent. For a relatively small club we have had a rich seam of talent come through our system, with no less than 5 boys and one girl going on to represent their nations in recent times. More of the girls and Ladies in the next newsletter. Four of our lads have gone to the Bath Academy, Orlando Bailey, Frankie Reed, Ethan Staddon and John Stewart, with all of them playing together there this past season. Orlando captained the side and as we know it was all brought to a premature end due to Covid-19. Orlando, John and Ethan have all played for England at U18 level, with both John and Orlando getting their first caps when they were still U17’s.
Sam O’Connor has signed for Scarlets in West Wales and has represented Wales at U18 level also. His brother Hari is also at Scarlets has recently played for Wales U20’s; Hari was part of Gav Dunning’s group of successful boys to represent the club.
As a squad under the guidance of Mike Sprules, the side won the West Dorset cup at U12 level in 2013/14 then in 2014/15 they lost in the semi final of the Dorset & Wilts Cup. The players were so devastated by that loss they never lost to another D&W team again for the next three seasons! They were County Champions for 15/16, 16/17 & 17/18. Quite an achievement for a group of young men still honing their skills in the game. Under the guise of Thomas Hardye School they won the Nat West U15’s Schools Vase at Twickenham in a memorable 62-7 win against Dr Challoners Grammar School. The Nat West headline read: “Sublime Thomas Hardye give one the great final displays”
A set of stats for the group as U16’s is quite amazing:
Played 19: Won 19: Points for 1136: Points against: 168
This year the Colts won their league with time in hand before the season was prematurely cut short and they were jointly awarded the D&W County Cup. The group had their first player break into the 1st XV this season with Freddie Marsden playing in the league game at Blandford.
It is safe to say the future of the club is in safe hands, a number of that group have now played at senior level for Dorchester with Matthew Adshead, Taylor Moore, Thomas Peach and Ben Harries running out for the Gladiators to experience the step up and Joe Message, Ed Martin, Jack Hayward and Reece Vincent have all played for the twin counties set up.
Congratulations to all the players involved in the group as well as coaches, parents and supporters, we look forward to hearing and seeing more about the lads as their rugby careers evolve.
Tim Beavis June 2020
Senior Players end of season awards.
Traditionally the senior men present their awards at a player’s dinner, always well attended and very enjoyable for all. 2019/2020 was a very successful year for the senior men, unbeaten league winners and an excellent cup run, so it’s doubly sad that those who contributed so much on the pitch weren’t able to celebrate together and present their awards in the usual way. After consultation with the three captains and Head Coach, the following players have been given awards:
First Team player of the season: This year we have broken from tradition and jointly awarded this trophy to Josh Hosford and Charlie Sharpe, our extremely dynamic, mobile and all conquering flankers. The performances of these two young players was consistent and inspiring to watch so on a personal note I am pleased the award has been made in this way and it couldn’t have gone to two more deserving recipients.
First Team most improved player: The winner of this award is the ever-popular Chris Elliot. For those who don’t know Chris, he plays in the technical tight-head prop position and his experience and technical knowledge on the right of the scrum belies his age.
A XV player of the season: Another fine young player wins this award, Luke Robson. If it wasn’t for often working away from home I’m sure Luke would be in the mix for a First XV place, especially given his versatility.
A XV most improved player: Hooker Scott Rice wins the award this year. Not only is Scott developing nicely as a player but he is a keen supporter of the club post-match too!
A XV players player: This isn’t the first award Tim Stephens has won, I’ve always rated Tim as a player and it’s nice to see I’m not the only one. Tim has been a very consistent performer over the years and also has versatility.
Gladiators Captain Tony O’Connell has kindly provided the following for his team which was so good and in the spirit of Gladiators rugby so I had to share it.
Player of the Year - Charlie Davis. Charlie has been ever present since playing the weekend after his 17th birthday last season. No one present will forget his birthday celebrations this year when he could finally have his first drink, nor the amount of time I spent with the mop and bucket. However he is clearly meant for greater things and if he can start to make training he’ll be playing 8 for the 1st XV for years to come if he wants.
Players Player - Mike Howell. ‘Big Ginge’ has made himself available for every game and training session he could, and numerous times having played a Friday night game for the Gladiators, benched for the A XV the following day...although this was mostly to avoid going to see son George.
Most improved player - Rhys Williams. Most surprising is that neither Tim Beavis or mum Chrissie voted for him. Everyone remembers his debut try away to Lytchett last season (when Chrissie earned the nick name Foghorn) and he’s gone from strength to strength. Rhys finished the season having nailed a regular starting place for the A XV.
Gladiators of the Year - Tony Agbobu and Joe Prior. Firstly Joe Prior may have left the club but he is a Gladiator through and through. He came back to rugby last year playing for the Gladiators, and finished playing for the 1st XV. Despite now being a Taunton Titan he has remained a staunch friend to the Gladiators and seeing him play with Sam this year was a true Gladiators moment. Secondly,Tony Agbobu. Tony always plays with a smile (who wouldn’t wearing those short shorts and leather driving gloves) and thanks to him at least half of Dorset County Hospital have now played for the Gladiator, he’s a one man recruitment officer for the joys of social rugby!
Congratulations to all our senior award winners, a great bunch of lads and a credit to yourselves and the club. Hopefully you’ll be able to celebrate with your teams in some way later in the year. Thanks to our head coach, Martin Oxland and team captains James Newsam, Matt Fry and Tony O’Connell for adjudicating the awards.
With apologies to the two age groups I missed off the last newsletter, here are their reports:
Under 11s The U11s started the season with an early game against Exeter Saracens. They played then as they continued to play throughout the season - fearlessly. Their skill and knowledge of the game has continued to develop apace. Another great season, and raring to go for 2020/21.
Under 15s When Covid-19 put paid to this year’s campaign we had already seen disruption from the winter weather and an unprecedented run of injuries before Christmas; at one point having 10 squad members unavailable. With that in mind, it’s amazing that we actually managed 16 matches: testament to the attitude, commitment and willingness of a great bunch of boys, coaches and of course, parents. The person who made all this possible was, as ever, our tireless team manager Michele Harding, to whom we all extend an NHS-style round of applause. Thank you Michele. The most encouraging thing from this season has been the boys’ attitude and belief. They are starting to realise that their destiny on a rugby pitch (as in life) lies in their own hands and they have risen to the challenge repeatedly, taking the game with real purpose to opposition who have in previous years been too strong for them. In some cases (North Dorset, Wimborne) they almost nicked the game in the dying moments. Next year boys, next year… The standard in our region is particularly strong across all the clubs at this age-group level, and it’s a credit to this Dorchester team that they got to the quarter finals of the D&W cup and can hold their heads high. A tricky season very well negotiated. RESULTS: Played: 16 Won: 6 Lost: 10. For: 272 Against: 403
New Colts Coach
We’re delighted to announce that Mike Sprules (See below for more news about Mike) and Gordon Harding have agreed to become the permanent coaching team for our Colts XV. This is excellent news for the club and I expect to see some more great players bridging the gap between youth and senior rugby over the next few years. Good luck to you both.
The club AGM will be held on 23rd July 2020, either online or socially distanced, depending on Government advice at the time. There will be an official calling notice sent separately. I will be standing down at this year’s meeting but my successor is being brought up to speed ready to take over after the AGM, subject to ratification by the committee. As I may not communicate with you all in this way again, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support these past 4 years while I’ve been in office. I would also like to thank the hard-working committee and other officers of the club, your contributions are heroic and humbling.
I asked former Club President and playing stalwart, Frank Dike to write a guest piece for this newsletter, here is his excellent contribution about the famous Gladiators inaugural tour in 1997 and I think I’m correct in saying, have run every year since.
If there is a greater being guiding our future and worrying about our welfare it is evident that she did not want us to go to Kiev for this year’s planned rugby tour. If Covid-19 had not happened the Chernobyl forest fires that by the middle of April made Kiev the most polluted city in the world would surely have deterred us. Perhaps, it was for the best that we had to stay home, we will I hope, be able to try again next year. For now, though may I remind you of a past tour.
There is, it must be said, some ambivalence about the year 1997. Some say it was a most inauspicious year: it heralded, they say, the coming of Tony Blair and the slide into gloom and economic depression that inevitably follows a long-term Labour government. In this same year Princess Diana died, England lost the Ashes and Glamorgan won the County Championship but amongst the melancholy and woe something rather fine occurred – this was the year of the inaugural Gladiators’ Rugby Tour. Who knew then what was to follow?
The tour was the brain-child of Robert Le Grice, (Captain Bob) and made possible by the efforts of Steve Bowden in Chablis. Following the trend of the former Bayeaux trips Steve arranged accommodation amongst friends and players of the Chablis rugby team. In this way the expenses for the tourists were kept to a minimum and thus a greater number of students and similar reprobates could afford the trip. There were several draw backs to this, the first being was that, although we could afford a coach, we could not afford a driver who knew his way. Driving round and round Paris was not a happy experience but once we arrived at Chablis all was wonderful and the happy wine fuelled glow did not leave me for several days.
It was an original tour in several ways not least the imaginative fine committee (unlike the heavy- handed fine committee of recent tours). There were fines for the wrong type of reading material, not smiling, talking seriously, excessive rudery and looking worried. Ray Kershaw was fined quite severely for “trying to look intelligent”. John Mahoney was fined for being “a cultural illiterate” when he announced he had seen the Bayeaux tapestry three times and he thought it was shite. Colin Wilkins was fined (but refused to pay) for “sleeping and being generally boring”. (Colin was the original “tour wuss”). Steve Allan was given a monstrous fine for looking old and only being 24. Mike Barclay was fined for looking pale!
The most original thing about the tour though was that we won. My all-time favourite rugby moment is picking myself up from a violent ruck to see Ziggy Hayward racing along the left wing to score the winning try. There followed an incredible evening of fun and frivolity with the Mayor and Mayoress of Chablis and nearly all of the Chablis rugby team. The singing was loud and raucous and I am not sure why but every one sang naked except the Mayoress and me. O happy day!
Frank Dike June 2020