Canterbury Tales


There is a celebratory feel around the club today and not only because we are hosting the seventh annual Oktoberfest beer festival.  It’s worth raising a glass to the early season form of the first team who have extended their winning run to five games. It has taken us to fourth spot in the National 2 South table with 24 points and while there is a lot of rugby still to be played that is a handy position.  Last season it was well into November before we registered that number of points.  It is also fair to say that the fixture makers have helped us.  Apart from the opening game against Cinderford we have been dealt a good hand with matches against four sides who were playing a level below last season. However, three of those games were away from home, at Tonbridge Juddians, Old Redcliffians and, last week, Wimbledon and any win on the road is gold dust. Against Judds and Old Reds we also came away with the bonus point, another big plus.  Although the win at Wimbledon probably ranked as our least impressive performance the fact that we still were able to grind out a victory will have done the team’s confidence no harm.   However, this is where the really hard work starts. Redruth today, league leaders Taunton next week – these games will show just how far we have come.


It was a good day all round for the club’s senior teams on the Wimbledon weekend. The five men’s sides all won and our Women’s team came up with the goods on Sunday. However, it is worth a closer look at the Pilgrims Zoo League game at Wimbledon and not just for their 48-31 success. In the squad were names that will have caught the attention of the first team selectors.  At centre was Ricky Mackintosh who formed an outstanding partnership with Charlie Harding two seasons go.  With his other commitments easing Ricky is on the comeback trail and will no doubt be pushing hard to regain his old place in the first team line-up. Another long term absentee, Alex Wake-Smith, played his first game for almost eighteen months. The young prop has battled to overcome nerve damage and this first outing was in the back row. Hopefully he is on the way to a full recovery.   Also back in the fray was scrum half Kyan Braithwaite,  missing from action since damaging an ankle in the opening game against Cinderford. Good news for all three players, and the club, but not so lucky is our summer signing Seb Roche who dislocated  a shoulder at Old Redcliffians. Seb is to undergo surgery which will sideline him for several months.


While the great efforts of the players are the highly visible part of the club it is our involvement with rugby in the community that is equally important.   It is a vital part of Head of Rugby Andy Pratt’s remit and the amount of effort he devotes to this area is crucial to our future.  Here is snapshot of what is currently going on behind the scenes. We have appointed coaches to both universities, UKC and Christ Church, with Matt Corker and Alex Veale starting in UKC covering both Mens and Womens rugby.  Our involvement with local school is another hugely important area and our coaches are being used by Kings Canterbury, Simon Langton Boys and Kent College. Canterbury High School want us to run their afterschool club once again and Barton Court Grammar School have asked for a coach to support their rugby. post Christmas. Lizzy Nicholl and Aegean Leech started a weekly club at Bridge Primary school and are resuming  in Simon Langton Girls. Sheldwich Primary have approached us for four weeks coaching plus teacher development as part of an agreement with Canterbury High. The club is hosting  a primary schools festival on 9th November with 13 teams already entered and we staged the Barton Court v Sir Roger Manwoods Natwest Schools Cup game here at the MTG in September. The club has also become a focal point for coaching development and refereeing courses. Andy is now producing a coaching newsletter and  developing a coaching page on the club web site.  So if anyone   asks what he does between first team games the answer is – lots.


It was a big moment for our Wheelchair Rugby team, Canterbury Hellfire, when made their debut in National Division One at Leicester.  After a slow start they finished an impressive sixth over the weekend and proved that they are top division material.  They had difficulties in the lead up to their first appearance at this level with the team minus one of last season’s stars, Ollie Mangion, who has moved to London Storm and player/coach Steve Brown who was unavailable, They were able to bring in experienced replacements in the form of Luke White and Frenchman Sebastien Lhuissier. However, this team had only trained all together once so inexperienced coach Omar Foster took up the coaching mantle and hoped for the best. However, once they had adjusted to their new surroundings Hellfire improved steadily and perhaps the best moment came when they came up against Ollie Mangion and beat his London Storm team. Wrong move, Ollie?


Sadly, Redruth marks the last home game for Tyler Edwards our Aussie second row, travel guru and lately warm up specialist. The knee injury that has kept him out of action since January has now caused him to step away from playing and return home to Western Australia. Tyler brought a lot to the squad on the field – a good reader of the game, his work at the lineout and restart has been missed. Off the field he was always the first to volunteer to help out on a Sunday morning having usually hosted the lads at Church Street the night before.
Thanks Tyler – we hope you stay in touch.

Andy Pratt, Head of Rugby

«  1st XV • National League 2 South 2016/17  »

# Team Pld Pts
1 Bishop's Stortford 30 129
2 Old Elthamians 30 122
3 Barnes 30 51
4 Exmouth 30 29