“I am so proud of all the lads, what an incredible day, and what an incredible amount of Guinness!”
Michael "Rhino" Whitfield
It has taken me this long to recover from the celebrations after last Saturday’s momentous 1st XV game at Sutton & Epsom, which Barnes 1st XV won 7-52, became league champions, and with it automatic promotion to National League 2 South, (which is a hell of a lot easier league to explain to people than: we’re in London and South-East Premier, which used to be known as National 3, only the other National League clubs above didn’t like that so they made us change the name!).
Firstly let’s talk about the game. To be 100% of winning the league, removing any potential for Guernsey to overhaul us, we knew that needed to win and score at least four tries.
Before the game I had predicted that we would come out of the blocks fast and, on an unseasonably hot Spring day, with the sun at our backs, we did just that. Three tries in the first 20 minutes settled any nerves we might have had, not that there were any to be honest, the first scored by Rob Malaney, and two scored by the try-machine Robbie Martey.
Just before the half-time break, we moved the ball very slickly out of our 22, after a jinking, searing break by Charlie Wicks, the ball passed through several pairs of hands at pace, before Fraser Carlisle received the ball, he beat four men, inside and out, and finished off one of our very best tries of the season. Job done. Four tries, maximum points and at 0-24 up we were preparing to head into the break when we took our eye off the ball and let the feisty home team in for a score of their own.
Whilst it was to be their last try of the game, it was a timely reminder for us not to take our foot off their throats.
As we entered the second half, Sutton and Epsom came out fighting, literally, resulting in a red card for them, and a yellow for Al Ryan, as he looked to protect himself. S & E were not going to go quietly into the night, that was for sure. Any thoughts of Barnow showboating through the rest of the game evaporated immediately, and we got back to work with Alex Hind scoring with 20 minutes to go, making the score 7-31, and then Jack Franklin got in on the act, increasing the lead to 7-38.
We had total control of the game now, and straight from the kick off the irrepressible Matt Cornish ran the ball back 60 metres unopposed to score - the party had begun, with Barnes leading 7-45, as the game reached its final moments, but the best was yet to come.
In a moment of sheer brilliance, the mercurial Tom O’Toole, chipped over the advancing Sutton and Epsom defence, gathered the ball himself and touched down, thus putting S & E to the sword, and the debate about him getting married on the Saturday first game of the season ( when we lost to S&E because everyone was at Tom's wedding) well and truly to bed. For the record, Charlie Wicks also converted six of the eight tries scored too boot, or should I say from his boot!
And that was it. Final score Sutton and Epsom 7 Mighty Barnow 52. We only went and won the bleedin’ league didn’t we, in front of a delirious band of Barnes supporters! Glorious scenes ensued, much Guinnness was consumed, mainly by my shirt judging by its appearance on Sunday morning, and the coach journey back to Barnes was the stuff of legends.
Memories are made of rugby games like these, hail you mighty Barnow Band of Brothers!
In their dotage, everyone who watched last Saturday’s game, either on or off the pitch, will remember it, and what happened in the celebrations afterwards. It will always warm the cockles of all our hearts, even as I think of it now I am smiling as I type.
Well done to all of the players and coaches. We will reflect in their collective glory for a week or so, then go on tour to Santander, and when we get back, well then the hard work will begin on the tough challenge ahead of ensuring we perform to our very best potential in National League 2 South next season. We will be out to prove that we are not just worthy to be in the league, but that we are deadly serious about being a key team in the league.
Watch this space!
Whilst the 1st XV deserve great praise for their achievement last weekend, and for the whole season, it would not have been possible without the whole 1st XV squad, enabling over 50 players to appear in the 1st XV this season.
On Saturday the 2nd XV won a memorable game too, against Chinnor 22-24, which moved them to 6th in Zoo Shield 1. They too are an amazing band of brothers!
Barnes Ladies - 7's Development Tournament
16 Ladies teams competed at Barn Elms last weekend in the Barnes Ladies 7’s Development Tournament. Barnes Bears won the tournament, retaining their title, and the Physio Edge Cup. Barnes Geese made it to the plate final but were beaten by Stanford Ladies. Another resounding success for our amazing Ladies section!
I also want to mention that on Friday night we held the Barnes Girls Inaugural Tag Festival, played on the 4G pitch at Rosslyn Park. We hosted 90 girls from 7 local primary schools - what amazing things we are doing at Barnes RFC
This weekend we have three important final fixtures to complete the season.
On Saturday the 2nd Xv travel to Cambridge in a 10 point game which could take us to 5th in the league whilst the Occies are in a play-for promotion against Old Haileyburians. On Sunday the Ladies conclude their 15-a-side season, travelling away to play High Wycombe Ladies. We wish them all luck!
Saturday 28th April
• Cambridge 2nd XV vs Barnes 2nd XV - 2pm KO
• Occies vs Old Haileyburians - 12.30pm KO in play-off final
Sunday 29th April
• High Wycombe Ladies vs Barnes Ladies - 2pm KO
Here's hoping for a fantastic final weekend, after a fantastic season.
Onwards the Green Army!
Michael "Rhino" Whitfield[/b]
Updated 10:09 - 27 Apr 2018 by Ashley Brandon