It has been a mixed couple of weeks for the senior squad with the news dominated by injuries, one of them serious, comebacks for two long term absentees, an overdue win against Worthing followed by a low a key display at muddy Taunton. Unfortunately, it was our youngest first team player, 17-year-old Jamie Stephens, who had the worst of luck when he fractured his left leg below the knee during the Taunton game. On a happier note, Jamie is back home and appeared at the club and is getting used to his crutches. Given the circumstances he is in good spirits and, even better, intends to go ahead with a holiday to the Caribbean in the near future. We all wish him well. He was not the only casualty at Taunton. Prop Aaron Cooper came off with a muscle injury which keeps him out of the London Irish match while skipper Tom Burns will be absent for a second week running as he recovers from knee problems. On the plus side we saw the return of back rowers George Micans and Max Cantwell, who both made appearances from the replacements bench.. To have two experienced Number Eights missing for such a lengthy spell has been a real handicap. Back to fitness also is fly half Tom Best whose goal kicking skills should be another bonus. Talking of bonuses, although we missed getting the extra point in the game against Worthing the victory was welcome. Until that win it was eight years since we last beat them. Some of the pundits were surprised by the narrow margin of our victory but Worthing have suffered severe injury problems which partly explains their present struggles. Against us they were able to recall four experienced players and include a new signing from Harlequins Academy. That made a difference.
Whilst the result and score at Taunton was not one anyone with a Canterbury sympathy would have wanted, the application and spirit the lads put in was great. A long journey, heavy pitch and a very good opposing team combined to highlight some areas of weakness and that gives us a chance to learn and develop. The most disappointing aspect was the loss of Jamie Stephens to a nasty knee injury. Jamie shows massive potential both as a player and as a young man. We will do all we can to support him back to full fitness, Welcome to London Irish Wild Geese and their supporters. Their victory under the lights in November will give them a lot of confidence today and they will be keen to take another step towards safety from the relegation spots. Canterbury will need all the support they can get so please make yourself heard, As always, enjoy the game.
Andy Pratt, Head of Rugby
ROYCE’S HAIRY 100TH
The London, Irish fixture sees lofty lock Royce Cadman play his 100th first team game for the club. Royce, as we know, never does anything by halves so to mark the occasion he is making it a fund raising day for the children’s charity for rugby Wooden Spoon. It coincides with the celebration of Canterbury becoming the charity’s 50th partner club and they are presenting us with a plaque at the pre-match lunch. Royce’s contribution is to have his luxuriant locks shaved off after the match and the honour will go to the highest bidder with the money going to the Wooden Spoon. Royce is also planning to donate his hair to the service that provides wigs for young cancer victims, so we have asked him to use a decent shampoo in the shower. It is a great gesture from a player who graduated from the Canterbury junior ranks to play professional rugby with Newport Gwent Dragons and Doncaster. Royce has represented England Students (during his time at Hartpury College), England Counties and, in a peripatetic career, played county rugby for Gloucestershire, Yorkshire and Kent. He came home to Canterbury in 2013. The great shearing takes place in the clubhouse after the game. The Wooden Spoon was founded by five England rugby fans after the team’s woeful performance in 1983. It now funds around 70 projects each year that support disadvantaged and disabled kids. It has distributed over £24 million and helped a million people since its foundation,
WELCOME BACK, MIKE
Those of you who were around eight years ago may recognise a familiar face among our guests from London .. With us, together with his wife Lauren, is Mike Coman who since playing for Canterbury in 2009 has captained North Harbour, New Zealand, played in the Pro 12 for Edinburgh and is now part the London Irish Championship squad. Mike, a Junior All Black, came to us from the Canterbury provincial side in New Zealand as part of a rehabilitation programme after he suffered a major knee injury. His first put himself to the test in a Kent Cup game at Aylesford so the opposition has improved a bit since then. He made a terrific impact in the first team, playing alongside the likes of Gert De Kock, Matt Pinnick and Mike Melford. It has been great to see Mike’s career take off and our small part in relaunching it.
OUR INTERNATIONAL TRIO
Former Canterbury players have been hitting the heights at international level in recent weeks. Centre Huw Jones, once of our Junior section, played in Scotland’s win over Ireland (sorry about that all you London Irish supporters) and was a spectator at our game against Worthing, no doubt taking playing tips from elder brother Jonny. Conor Wallace-Sims, who left us to try his luck in the land of his birth, has been rewarded with a place in the United States Sevens squad and played in New Zealand at the recent Wellington Sevens, while Natasha Brennan, who started her rugby career with the club’s Ladies side, is also starring in the short form of the game with the England Womens Sevens squad.
HELLFIRE ON FIRE
Our Wheelchair team,Canterbury Hellfire, is hitting the heights this season. At the latest BT Super Series weekend they won a great battle against closest rivals Burn, 43-41 and now head the National Division 2. The perverse decision by UK Sport to withdraw funding from Wheelchair Rugby is still the sport’s biggest challenge and they have now presented their case to the UK Board for the restoration of financial support. We have a direct interest through Canterbury player Ollie Mangeon who is a member of the GB Elite squad. Funding is vital if they are to compete at the Tokyo Olympics and their case is being supported by England full back Mike Brown. You can help Mike in his efforts to raise funds by going to the GB Wheelchair Rugby web site and registering: gbwr.org.uk
DOWN THE PAN
We think a new record was established in the game at Taunton last. Will Hilton, among the replacements for the first time this season, found himself on the field in unique and, shall we say, stomach churning circumstances. He replaced scrum half Dan Smart who was seen vanishing from the action in the fastest sprint of the day. In tennis they call it a toilet break; the rest of the bench and the coaches were more earthy in their description. Pity the team went down the pan, too.
|Opponent||Loc.||Date & Time|
|Redruth||home||4 Mar 15:00|
|Chinnor||away||11 Mar 15:00|
|Redingensians||home||25 Mar 15:00|
|Exmouth||away||1 Apr 15:00|
|Barnes||home||8 Apr 15:00|
|Bury St. Edmunds||away||22 Apr 15:00|
|Cinderford||home||29 Apr 15:00|
|11||Bury St Edmunds||23||40|
|13||London Irish Wild Geese||23||38|
|L||25 Feb||Bishop's Stortford||30-46|
|W||11 Feb||London Irish WG||21-17|
|L||4 Feb||Taunton Titans||5-30|
|D||21 Jan||Bishop's Stortford||0-0|
|L||17 Dec||Old Elthamians||14-18|
|W||10 Dec||Bury St. Edmunds||31-15|
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