“We are ready, we are fresh, so bring on the Barnow rugby! ”
Michael "Rhino" Whitfield
Greetings to you all for the 2017/2018 season as it approaches, and a very warm welcome from all of us at Barnes Rugby Club.
I have been brooding all summer since that very last game of last season, when the 1st XV lost in the last play of the last game to the worthy National League 2 champions, Bishop Stortford. We needed just one point to avoid the drop from National 2 South to the newly names London and South East Premier League.
Whilst the brooding made me feel quite grumpy, planning for the coming season has countered that completely and made me feel very excited.
I know that we have only ourselves to blame for not staying up. The players and the Committee know that. The supporters and lovers of Barnes RFC know that. Everyone knows that. No point crying over spilt Guinness.
The time for brooding is over. The time for putting it right on the pitch is fast approaching - now is the time for walking the walk, not talking the talk. The season is just around the corner, and it is time to get back on the horse…and I think have now run out of clichés!
It is time to channel the angst endured by all of 1st XV squad last season, as well as to harness the joyous camaraderie created by those who went on tour to Bordeaux, only a few short weeks after that painful end to last season. It was just what the doctor ordered to get over our malaise, with lashings of red wine being the medicine of choice to repair broken bodies and minds, and it did just the job.
None of us will forget either the bitter pain of defeat, or the brilliant friendships created by the Barnes band of brothers who went on tour to France. We will respect both these bittersweet memories. They will drive us forward in every game, and keep us honest. You can expect the entire Barnes Rugby 1st XV squad to be very focussed this season as a result.
We move into the new season with nearly all of the 1st XV playing squad intact from last time, bolstered by some brilliant additional coaching staff, and an influx of new players, keen to pull on the green and gold of Barnow. The players and coaches are incredibly excited about this season, and there is a frisson in the Barnes Rugby air in eager anticipation of the season ahead.
Whilst we will miss fondly the six West Country games of last season, we are very much looking forward to welcoming some familiar faces and teams back to Barn Elms after a few seasons break. Visiting them at their clubs in the away fixtures will be easier too, with nearly all of the fixtures being much closer to home for the players, coaches and supporters than last time.
We will travel just North of London to face fierce old rivals Hertford and Tring, and then slightly further North to play a side Barnes have never played before, east-Midlands based Towcestrians. To the East of them we will play old foes Shelford from Cambridge.
Carrying on clockwise around the compass to the East of London, we will play Westcliff and Southend Saxons, and in Kent, we will play Sidcup, Tunbridge Wells and Westcombe Park.
Venturing further South, we look forward to locking horns again with Sutton and Epsom and Guildford, and of course our very good friends from Dorking.
Whilst we don’t have any sides to the West of us for the first time I can remember, we do have a short overseas trip to Guernsey to make up for it, which no doubt will be a focal point for a mini pre-end of season tour in March!
The club, as a whole, is very much in fine fettle. The entire 1st XV squad is ready, with the 1st XV playing in the London and South East Premier League (previously known as National 3). Whilst the 1st XV will be looking to bounce back up and restore our playing pride, the 2nd XV are playing again in the highly competitive Zoo Shield 1, and they will be looking to improve on their 5th place finish from last season.
We have a very successful Mayfair Occasionals side, who won promotion last season, and equally successful Vets and Ladies XV’s.
Our Minis and Juniors section has almost 500 players strong now, with over 80 coaches, and teams ranging from the Under 6’s to Under 16’s. It is incredibly exciting to think that in a couple of years we will be able to join up our Juniors with the adult section of the club.
Let me finish by saying that we have as much fun off the field as on it, and we like to play with a smile on our face. Barnes Rugby Club always tries to play in the right spirit, calling on the legend of the game played at Barn Elms in 1862, under the one code of the game that existed at that time. Local resident Ebenezer Cobb Morley set up the Barnes Club, from his home in Mortlake, and he then set up the FA in 1863, with the RFU being born 1871.
We are proud of our heritage, and equally proud of where we are today, and where we are headed as a vibrant, inclusive and fun rugby-loving community.
Do come and play, watch and enjoy Barnes Rugby this season, in the right spirit.
Onwards and Upwards!
Michael “Rhino” Whitfield
Chairman – Barnes RFC
Updated 15:37 - 14 Aug 2017 by Paul Spencer