Canterbury Tales



Back to back wins will have put the first team in a better frame of mind after the poor result at Clifton.  Victories over Henley Hawks and London Irish Wild Geese both came with a health warning, with the result in the balance until the last seconds of each game.  Against the Hawks the situation was out of our hands. Players and supporters could only pray that the conversion attempt from Henley’s late try would fail. It hit the post.   At Sunbury it was all down to magnificent defence as the Irish were held up over our line in the last play of the game.  It may not have been good for the heart rate or the nerves but those narrow successes saw us move into the top six clubs in the league table. The task now is to sustain the winning run in the lead up to Christmas which includes a visit to unbeaten league leaders Chinnor. As we approach the half way mark it is becoming a familiar story in National 2 South. Every side, with possibly three exceptions, is capable on their day of beating the others. The front runners, Chinnor and Cinderford, are looking the most likely  promotion candidates at this point. At the other end of the table, Wimbledon and Broadstreet are finding Level Four a step too far and despite recent small improvements Old Redcliffians are stuck in the third relegation spot.   However, experience shows that the New Year often brings a revivalist spirit to many clubs.  Our dip after the Christmas break last season is a reminder that nothing is set in stone. We are frequent travellers in the New Year so making games at the MTG our bankers will continue to be crucial


There will shortly be a new name to look for on the team sheets.  David Bailey, from the Nedlands club in Western Australia, arrived this week. He will widen Andy Pratt’s options in the back row following the long term injury problems that have disrupted the squad. David, who has a UK passport, comes from the same stable as that talented flanker Sean Nixon who played for us two seasons ago.  News of those long term injuries is that Sam Rogers is scheduled to have knee surgery on December 18th,, while Seb Roche is back with the club after a shoulder operation. In the back division we are still without Aiden Moss (ham string) but Kieran Thompson, who was a leading try scorer before his thigh injury, could make his first appearance for six weeks in the Pilgrims game this afternoon.



When hooker Tom Rogers was named Man of the Match after the Henley game it was a significant moment. It was the first time in a long and distinguished career with the club that 32-year-old Tom had won the award. With your head buried in the scrums and the crowd on your back if the lineout throw goes astray the hooker’s crucial role often goes unappreciated.  Tom caught the eye in that last home game not only for his flawless communication with his jumpers which allowed us to dominate lineouts, but also in the dark recesses of the front row.  Good hookers are not just strikers for the ball – although anyone of the front is allowed to strike under this season’s trial laws . They must also be solid and aggressive scrummagers on the opposition put in . That was another area where we again came out on top against Henley and Tom played a full part.  Watch his close support work, too and you will come to appreciate his experience, the contribution he makes and why he deserved that MOM.


 He only came to watch his old mates in the first team play at London Irish so last season’s skipper Tom Burns was contemplating a quiet afternoon.  Tom underestimated the powers of persuasion wielded by Pilgrims coach Alex Veale and manager John Mitchell and suddenly he was making an unlikely playing comeback.  With the Pilgrms squad short on numbers Tom, dodgy knees and all, found himself on the replacements bench  and then thrust into the action. It may have lasted only twelve minutes but for a man missing his rugby since his retirement it was a great moment.   Considering he had to play in borrowed kit - Will Hilton’s boots and Joe Craig’s shirt - it was remarkable that he lasted that long, but proved that his heart is still with Canterbury.  So thanks Tom; we trust you didn’t tell your lovely wife.


 There was a famous gathering at the pre-match lunch for the Redingnsiqns fixture where Andy Morris and Steve Goode brought together a group of former Canterbury players who were among the best that have represented the club over the pas decade or so..  Joining them after the game were several of their contemporaries who now make up our coaching  team.  Andy calls it the ‘golden’ generation and includes four ex-captains, but that is always a subjective description.  There are some diamonds among them, however rough, so we have selected a squad from the guest list.Some will complain that they should be in the starting line up but one thing’s for sure – at their age they will all get a game

Canterbury Squad: 15 Peter King, 14 Ian Burgess, 13 Gert De Kock, 12 Chris Sweet, 11 Danny Weigh, 10 Dave Marshall, 9 Eoin Stewart, 1 Carl Ambrose, 2 Frankie Davis, 3 Charlie Bannigan, 4 Chris Franks, 5 Rob Keir, 6 Leon White, 7 Mal Cullen, 8 Gareth Head.

Replacements: 16 Steve Goode, 17 Steve Milward, 18 Andy Bernthal, 19 Toby O’Rourke, 20 Matt Ford,21 Andy Pratt, 22 Mark Livesey, 23 Matt Pinnick.  Referee: Andy Morris

«  1st XV • National League 2 South 2017/18  »

# Team Pld Pts
1 Chinnor 13 61
2 Cinderford 13 60
3 Taunton Titans 13 52
4 Redingensians 13 46
5 Canterbury 13 44
6 Bury St Edmunds 13 41
7 Henley 13 38
8 Redruth 13 36
9 Worthing 13 35
10 Tonbridge Juddians 13 32
11 Barnstaple 13 31
12 London Irish Wild Geese 13 26
13 Clifton 13 24
14 Old Redcliffians 13 13
15 Broadstreet 13 9
16 Wimbledon 13 3