Canterbury Tales


Before the game there was little in the way of sunshine at Exmouth and, to be honest, nothing to warm either players or supporters in the results of the previous few weeks.  At the end of 80 muddy minutes all that had changed.   This was a totally different Canterbury from the side that struggled through March without a win.   The players were the same, but the mindset and concentration entirely different.  Exmouth may be bottom of the league and heading for relegation but on a surface decorated with puddles of water and quickly churning into a paddy field all bets on the result were off.  Here in the dry south east we rarely come across those conditions and plans to play the running game were quickly shelved.  The way in which the Canterbury players adapted to the situation deserves the highest praise – just ask the small knot of dedicated supporters whose long journey to the west proved be well worth the effort.  After the unacceptable display against Redingensians the team were given a metaphorical kick up the backside from the coaching staff who also hit them in their pockets through donations to the Injured Players charity.  One look at the Exmouth scoreboard shows how they responded, It was a good day to be captain and with Tom Burns on the injured list Max Cantwell took on the role for the first time.  He was rewarded by a superb effort from the whole squad.    Puzzlingly there seemed to be another game being played somewhere in Exmouth which was faithfully reported in last Sunday’s Rugby Paper.  In that contest the home side dominated all areas and were damned unlucky to lose.   We don’t know where it was played but it certainly wasn’t at the  Imperial Ground where Canterbury gave an almost flawless display of wet weather rugby.


It’s known as the business end of the season but for clubs like Chinnor and Old Elthamians business it has always been.  Buying promotion is not a new concept but as we approach the last two weeks of the season one of them is going to miss out and the other is likely to face a play-off against the second placed side in National 2 North, which is almost certain to be Sale.    Our old friend The Rugby Paper gave a platform to the Chinnor chairman this week in its letters column where he put up a strong defence of his club’s financial dealings and made some fair points. However, he carefully avoided the question of how much they spend on players and the size oft their playing budget.  With budget caps soon to be introduced by the RFU it will be interesting to watch the impact on those clubs with deep pockets.In the promotion and relegation stakes it is Bishop’s Stortford who are now clear favourites to win the league title and go up to Division One. Down in the basement Worthing have picked themselves off floor while Barnstaple’s victory at London Irish was crucial to their survival hopes. It pushed the Wild Geese into third bottom and with a poorer playing record than their equivalent in National 2 North they could be heading back to Level 5


There will be rugby at The Marine Travel Ground despite everyone having a day off on Easter Saturday.  On Thursday evening (Maundy Thursday), the Pilgrims take on Maidstone 1st in the semi-final of the Kent Plate.  The kick-off is 7.30pm and the bar and kitchen will be open, so we want everyone to come and support our young second team boys who have acquitted themselves well this season despite the heavy demands made on the squad by the first team If they win they will be back on home ground on Sunday, April 30th when we host the finals of all five Kent County Cup competitions.  It’s a whole day’s rugby starting at 11am and a great way to see out the season.


Before today’s match we will ask everyone to join the teams in observing a minute’s silence in memory of David Keir, a long time supporter of the club and father of Rob Keir, until recently one of the best lock forwards to play for Canterbury. David, who died suddenly at the age of 69, was the head of as porting family of five sons who distinguished  themselves at rugby, football, hockey and cricket.  David himself was a fine athlete, hockey player and cricketer in his younger days.  He enjoyed two careers, first as a farmer and then with the city’s leading car dealership, Barretts, where he was in charge of the company’s Hersden depot. David’s funeral is at 10.40am at Barham Crematorium on Friday, April 21st.   You can join the family and raise a glass to David at the Polo Sports Cub from 12 noon.


At the Barnes match the club will be receiving a certificate from the Injured Players Foundation to recognise the huge generosity of the club’s supporters in helping to raise a magnificent £2,511 for the charity. That master fund raiser John Corrigan has been the moving spirit and you have filled his collection bucket every time he has rattled it.  With us today as John’s guests are Dean Holder, from the Injured Players Foundation, and our local Member of Parliament, Sir Julian Brazier. Dean, of course, has strong associations with the club as he played for Canterbury while a student at Christ Church University (it’s so long ago it was probably still a college).  He will be helping John to rattle those buckets again today.  Don’t refuse him or he might tackle you and anyone who saw him play will take immediate avoiding action,.  John does much of his charity fund raising by cycling vast distances.  Maybe, just maybe, he won’t be wearing that fetching lycra this afternoon,.


The support we receive from the touchline at Canterbury is a source of pride, as Head of Rugby Andy Pratt noted in the last programme.  He also emphasised that respect for the match officials is paramount.  It is worth repeating that the distinction between banter and unwanted abuse is a line that must not be crossed.  If anyone, no matter who, witnesses uncalled for abuse of the referee and his assistants let that individual know that they are letting down both themselves and the club.

«  1st XV • National League 2 South 2016/17  »

# Team Pld Pts
1 Bishop's Stortford 29 124
2 Chinnor 29 117
3 Old Elthamians 29 116
4 Taunton Titans 29 100
5 Redruth 29 99
6 Redingensians 29 85
7 Cinderford 29 82
8 Canterbury 29 73
9 Henley 29 70
10 Clifton 29 69
11 Bury St Edmunds 29 59
12 Barnstaple 29 51
13 London Irish Wild Geese 29 51
14 Barnes 29 50
15 Worthing 29 48
16 Exmouth 29 29