“It was good to grind out a solid win against Hertford, Dorking will require as much effort, if not more!”
Michael "Rhino" Whitfield
This weekend the 1st XV play our old friends Dorking, it seems only yesterday that we last played them, but that was two season ago. As I remember, it was a pretty turgid affair, which Barnes won in the end 29-15, playing on a muddy Big Field at Dorking. The game was memorable for me only because the Dorking winger, in trying to clear his line, shanked it so badly that it lobbed gently less than 10 yards into the grateful arms of our scrum half, Jack Franklin, who strolled over to score hardly able to believe his luck! We are hoping for a far more exciting game than that on Saturday!
When we last played Barnes stayed up in National League 2 – just, and Dorking were relegated from the same league – just.
League Rugby at Level 4 and 5 is made up of games with slim margins, week in, week out. To illustrate this perfectly, last season we were also relegated by one single point. One single point out of a maximum one hundred and sixty on offer. Slim margins indeed!
So it is against this back drop that we very much welcome our old friends and local rivals Dorking this Saturday, and we know that neither team will want to be fighting over a handful of points come the sharp end of the season next April so the game will be hard fought and evenly contested.
But what about last week’s games, I hear you cry! Well, the 1st XV travelled to Hertford and, in a game only attractive to the die-hard rugby purists, ground out a hard-fought victory 23-17. It was, however, a step-up in performance from the Tunbridge Wells game the previous week, and it also saw the return of Barnow’s super-skipper, Jamie Collins after his early season sabbatical! Whilst winning ugly is still winning, and we gratefully took the points, it came at a cost too, in terms of injuries to a host of players, the worst of which cruelly saw Ciaran Smyth seriously injure his ankle, and we wish him well on the long road back to recovery. The sad irony is that it was at the same stage of the season last year when he badly damaged his knee and missed most of last season. Having a bench of only 3 players at this level (as opposed to 5 in National League 2) does, in my opinion, have the potential to create more injuries by encouraging those with seemingly minor injuries to stay on the pitch, whereas with a bench of 5 they wouldn’t. Definitely food for thought. I want to stress that this is, of course, the players not wanting to let the team down rather than negligence by the watching coaching and medical staff!
Apparently the reason for this smaller bench of 3 is so that 2nd and 3rd XV teams are not deprived of front row players and don’t have to abandon their games. It is a worthy ambition but at what cost to the well-being of the players outing their bodies on the line in the 1st XV I have to ask. Rant over!
After a tough old game against a very strong London Scottish side, (we lost 57-5 the previous week) Barnes 2nd XV took on an equally tough Old Elthamians side last week. Whilst the final score shows that Barnes lost 26-33, it was a greatly improved performance which will give the team confidence going forward in this new campaign, having finished 5th in the Zoo Shield 1 League last season. They will need a big further step up this weekend as they take on one of their toughest opponents, Richmond, in a fierce local derby
The Occies, bolstered (or hindered!) by a few wandering Vets with nothing better to do, got their new league campaign under way last weekend with a thumping win 54-27 over Old Paulines.
So a good week for the club last week and now we focus on the weekend ahead with the following games scheduled:
[b]Saturday 23rd Fixtures
• Barnes 1st xv v Dorking - 3pm KO
• Richmond Saxons v Barnes 2's - KO TBC
• Occies v Old Emanuel 2's - 3pm KO
Sunday 24th Fixture
- Cuffley v Barnes Ladies - KO TBC
A final couple of comments on this week’s upcoming 1st XV game against Dorking. It will be tough and uncompromising, from both teams. Dorking will have a point to prove, as we have been a thorn in their side on more than one occasion. They come off the back of two hard-fought, and very narrow, wins against Shelford last week and Guildford the week before, with a close loss in their first game of the season against Westcliff. So they have exactly the same win/loss record as Barnes so far, and I just can’t wait for kick off on this one, it’s going to be a cracker!
So onwards the Green Army, onwards Barnow, let’s do it on Saturday for each other, for Barnes Rugby Football Club and for rugby!
Michael “Rhino” Whitfield
Chairman - Barnes RFC
Onwards and Upwards!
Michael “Rhino” Whitfield
Chairman – Barnes RFC
Updated 15:05 - 19 Sep 2017 by Michael Whitfield