“Bring on Saturday! Bring on the Irish! Bring on both Elvis's!”
3-2-1- and we’re back in the room! Apologies for this long first missive of the season!
Welcome back one and all to today’s first game of the 2018-19 National League 2 Season, with Barnes RFC taking on local rivals London Irish Wild Geese.
I can’t think of a better opposition to kick off our season with. In fact, playing the Irish has inspired our lunch, and match, sponsor for this week, Colum Mannix of Eveready Hire, an Irishman through and through! Not only is he sponsoring today, but he is also providing the post-match entertainment, with some good old Irish tunes being sung by both a young Elvis, and Elvis in his last days. God help us all!
Colum, you and all of your guests, are incredibly welcome, you are an amazing supporter of the club, and it is people like you that make Barnes RFC the club it is today, thank you so very much!
Some of the BRFC faithful will have noticed that we have just completed some major works in the clubhouse over the summer. We have a lovely new kitchen for Zoe and her team to continue to work their magic in, and two new toilets too! Be careful when you want a pee though because we have swapped around the loo locations!
A special welcome today to our friends from London Irish Wild Geese, players and supporters alike. It has been a couple of years since you put the final nail in our coffin by smashing Chinnor as we slipped to a last-minute defeat at champions, Bishops Stortford. This ensured you stayed up, whilst we were relegated to the London and South-East Premier league - National League 3 as it was!
We licked our wounds, we smarted, and we reflected, hard. Then we vowed to bounce back, and bounce back we did, remaining unbeaten from November last year to April this year, at the end of last season. We won playing some great rugby, most notably against Tring at Barn Elms, and Guernsey at their place, and what a few days away on the island that was! But we also won ugly a few times too, and we knew after those ugly games that we wouldn't get away with playing like that in National 2 if we were promoted. So we were clearly resolute that if, and when, we won promotion again, then we would need a new game plan if we didn’t want to just make up the numbers again as relegation fodder.
So we made some exciting, and bold, decisions immediately after the last day of last season.
We recruited three new additional coaches. There is a new Head Coach in Joe Gray, fresh from coaching at Wimbledon Rugby Club, and playing in the front row of Harlequins last year.
Joe, 12 years a Premiership player, will be ably supported by two new Senior Coaches, Jack Heald from Cambridge Rugby and Josh McNally, a current 2nd row at London Irish, the Championship side not today’s Wild Geese variety! These three new coaches have joined forces with our existing dynamic duos, the brothers Chris and Tommy Bell, who continue their consulting roles with Barnes for another season. With this influx of new senior coaching staff, we have also bid farewell to our long-serving Director of Rugby, Jamie Turner. Jamie put his heart and soul into Barnes Rugby for over 11 years, which we are very grateful to him for, and we wish him all the very best in his new role at Bracknell Rugby Club this season.
Now back to today’s game. When we last played LIWG in the 2016/17 season it was honours even. At Sunbury, we turned in one of our worst performances of the season, going down 31-17, but we improved to beat them on the return leg at Barn Elms 26-16.
So what’s going to happen today? Well of course with it being the first game no-one knows the answer. It is an incredibly important game for both teams. Irish will feel they have the upper hand, having survived for the last few seasons in this tough league, and Barnes will be bristling with excitement, with our new coaching team, and a smattering of new players to compliment our wonderful 1st Xv squad.
First game in, on a rock hard pitch, there is no doubt that both sides will be at it full-on from the off, fast and furious, going at it hammer and tongs. With bodies not yet battle-hardened, or match-fit, there will be plenty of knock-ons, missed tackles and mucked-up moves for us to see, hopefully mostly from our opposition!
So on with the game, let’s have a brilliant game of rugby on the pitch, played in the original spirit that we pride ourselves in at Barnes RFC, and let’s hopefully celebrate a big Barnes win too!
Onwards and Upwards Barnow!
Chairman Barnes RFC
Updated 10:37 - 10 Sep 2018 by Scribbler