“I have never been more excited about a new season - bring on 1st September against LIWG at Barn Elms! ”
3-2-1- and we’re back in the room! Apologies for this long first missive of the season!
As I write this, one of the hottest summers on record looks like it is coming to an end with a day of rain refreshing our parched pitches. It is so badly needed, so fingers crossed we will have a lot more precipitation before we kick off on September 1st.
It really does not feel like we have had any time off since last season finished. At Barnes RFC we have achieved so much since that last game in April, and here we are again, with the 1st XV back in National League 2, back with so many familiar friends, and foes.
The mighty 2nd XV continue their challenge in the highly competitive Zoo Shield 1, and will be looking to improve on their excellent position reached in the league at the end of last season.
We will have enough players to potentially fuel the return of a Development XV and, along with the Occies, this will form the engine room of the club.
The Vets have been through a period of rebuilding this last year and I can feel their excitement mounting for the season ahead.
In the Ladies section, we hope to be fielding two XV’s this season, helped by our new partnership with, and the influx of players from, Imperial College.
And if that is not enough our amazing Minis and Junior section is 10 years old in September. Over 500 boys and girls, and nearly 100 coaches, are making this incredibly important part of the club and our future happen. This year we field an Under 17 team for the first time and it is amazing to think that in a couple of years’ time these boys could well be pushing for 1st XV places - I simply can’t wait for that to happen!
When you venture to Barn Elms next to watch some rugby, you will see that over the summer the changing rooms and facilities have gone through a significant transformation. Once finished, it will vastly improve the appearance of our pitch side buildings, and the experience for players and supporters alike. We are even hopeful that there will be a beer licence in the new pavilion to enhance your during-the-match pleasure.
In our much-maligned clubhouse, our own beloved Bedouin tent, we have made great improvements too, with the complete renewal of the external doors, loos, kitchen, wiring, plumbing and new central heating. We are also paving the outside area from front to back and getting new patio furniture. Again, the objective is to improve the quality of the time you spend with us during your time spent at Barnes RFC.
Whilst we have invested considerably to improve what we offer to players and supporters on the surface, beneath the surface, in our soul, we fiercely protect our authenticity as a real rugby club, with our core value of playing in the original spirit very much to the fore.
Whilst we are a very modern, inclusive community rugby club, we totally respect, and value, the roots of rugby and, indeed, our own club.
To remind you, Barnes RFC is steeped in history, one can even argue that without the original Barnes Club, and the inspiration and vision of one man, the games of rugby and football would not be the same. Back in 1862, Ebenezer Cobb Morley had a unique sporting vision. He formed the Barnes Club in Mortlake and then put on two ball games between Barnes and Richmond, one game dribbling, and one game handling the ball. Ebenezer much preferred the dribbling game and went on to form the FA in 1863, whilst the other “rugby” clubs went on to form the RFU in 1871. And it all happened in Barnes – amazing, don’t you think?
Whilst we are, of course, delighted with our improved facilities, and we love our history, we are here today to celebrate, and enjoy, the rugby on the pitch. Here too, we have made a big stride forward. With the appointment of our new Head Coach, Joe Gray, a Premiership professional of twelve years standing at both Harlequins and Northampton Saints. Whilst still playing at Quins, over the last three seasons Joe has been building his coaching credentials with local club Wimbledon, and we are delighted to have him on board at Barnes.
The 1st XV will lock horns this year with a whole host of old rivals: Bury St Edmunds, Canterbury, Clifton, Dings Crusaders, Guernsey, Henley, London Irish Wild Geese, Old Albanians, Redingensian Rams, Redruth, Taunton, Tonbridge Juddians and Worthing.
There are also two new sides for us to play: Birmingham & Solihull and Old Redcliffians. A senior Barnes club man was waxing lyrical about travelling to Birmingham and Solihull recently: “bejaysus, diss means we will have two trips up derr on me old stomping ground”. They are of course just one club not two!
We have some really mouth-watering clashes this season, all with history and memories of previous encounters with Barnes. We will welcome back to Barn Elms our good friends at Bury, TJ’s, and Worthing and old adversaries OA’s and Dings, to name but a few. And who can forget our amazing few days in Guernsey last year? Well actually, most of us who were there will probably not have a clue of what went on bearing in mind the high beer consumption level!
This season, we are determined to couple our flair, with a steely conviction that we hope will earn us respect from our opposition, admiration from all our supporters young and old, and recognition that Barnes RFC belong in National 2 for a long time to come.
Our 1st XV season kicks off on September 1st at Barn Elms against a great local rival, London Irish Wild Geese, at 3pm kick off, what a mouth-watering first-up game that is.
I am incredibly proud to be leading the Club as Chairman again this season, and I very much welcome you to our home if not on 1st September at some other game at Barn Elms.
Here’s to a wonderful season of rugby, on, and off, the pitch.
Onwards and Upwards Barnow!
Chairman Barnes RFC
Updated 18:24 - 9 Aug 2018 by Michael Whitfield