“There is already a buzz of excitement in the air as we get ready for the new season - I can't wait! ”
In the blink of an eye, we are back in pre-season training, with players new and old seemingly recovered from their various aches and pains they finished last season with, but also ruing their heavy indulgences at various weddings, stag nights and family get-togethers which have apparently stripped them of all fitness.
The enthusiastic banter and laughing at the start of the first session gradually reduced to silence, punctuated only by occasional wheezing, grunting and groaning as it went on!
So lots of work to do in the next two months before our first 1st XV game on 7th September away to Clifton, both on and off the pitch.
Under 13’s trained by Eddie Jones and Will Greenwood at Pennyhill Park
For some though the season actually began last Saturday, with members of our Under 13 squad going to Pennyhill Park for an exclusive training session with England Coach Eddie Jones, supported by Will Greenwood, our speaker at the Barnes City Lunch earlier this year, and a good friend of Barnes RFC. The kids had an amazing time and we hope they all progress through the ranks to become 1st XV players one day in the not too distant future. Whatever level they do play at, they will never forget the experience and will be Barnow till they die!
Barn Elms facilities and our own little Bedouin tent
Off the pitch, the renovations at Barn Elms are nearly complete, only a year late, and our poor friends who run Barn Elms have been badly let down by the Tideway Project, who have shown little, if any, concern for the massive disruption to all of the sports played at Barn Elms by schools and clubs. Shame on them! It will be a blessed relief for us all when those ugly hoardings are taken down!
In the clubhouse, Phase 2 of the refurb project in the main room is underway, mainly cosmetic with electrical upgrades, improved lighting and redecorating. We are also repairing the roof and putting up insulation so that in the darkest cold of winter we will be toasty warm!
The kit has been ordered, the honours boards are being updated and Ken has lots of new balls for everyone!
The first game of the season and all of our league opposition
On the pitch, Joe Gray, Jack Heald and Paul Spencer have been like whirling dervishes recruiting in key positions to strengthen the 1st XV squad from which both the 1st and 2nd Xv are selected, but to be honest only a handful of players from last season have moved on or retired so we are in a good place to build on our 11th place finish last time out.
To remind you all, but for one win we would have finished in 6th place, as only 4 points separated 6th from 11th. With Rams and Canterbury now both in National 1, the competition next season in National League 2 South will be even stiffer.
It is a very interesting mix of teams, some old friends and foe, some teams that we have not played before. But it is going to be another cracking season, albeit incredibly tough.
To kick off the season on 7th September we travel to Clifton and on 14th September we have our first home game of the season, and what a cracker it promises to be, with the might Esher visiting Barn Elms for the first time. This is then followed by a tough away again against one of our fiercest rivals, Redruth – what a brilliant - but tough - start to the season that is!
Apart from Esher, newbies to Nat 2 include, Bournemouth, Sutton and Epsom, Leicester Lions and Westcliff. Of course there is a cast of many others who we know and love including: Bury St Edmunds, Dings Crusaders, Henley, Old Albanians, Old Redcliffians, Taunton, Tunbridge Juddians and Worthing.
Not one easy fixture there!
So we have two months to go…two months to wait before Barnow’s new season takes off.
For July only, training for the men will be on Monday’s and Thursdays at Barn Elms
We are delighted that George Hunter has agreed to Captain the 1st XV this season, ably supported by his two Vice-Captains: Robbie Martey and Johan van der Poel. The 1st Xv squad Coaching Team is once again led by Joe Gray, with Jack Heald as his number two. The squad is bolstered this season by Chris Browne, a specialist forwards coach who last season was at London Irish. Our deadly duo, and special skills coaches, will once again be Chris and Tommy Bell. Will Armitage continues his journey up the coaching ladder after a brilliant first season, and we are really excited for him. We wish Hugo Milford-Scott a speedy recovery after major heart surgery recently and we hope to see you pitch-side in the not too distant future.
In August the men will revert to Tuesday and Thursday night training.
The Ladies will train on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout July and August under the new 1st XV Captain, Hellie Barcroft, and 2nd XV Captain Bethan Phillips. I am delighted to announce that Kirsty Openshaw will become Head Coach of the Ladies, joining us from Wimbledon. Kirsty will be supported by ex-England player, Natasha Brennan as we look to build on our first 15 years of Ladies Rugby at Barnes RFC.
Vets Summer Tag
The Vets play a gentle game of tag every Wednesday opposite the Clubhouse from 7pm on the BEST pitches. This will run to the end of August.
Well that is about it for now, it is my first piece for the new season ahead, at least I can still type!
Onwards and Upwards!
Michael “Rhino” Whitfield - Chairman Barnes RFC
Updated 07:45 - 9 Jul 2019 by Michael Whitfield