FACING THE CHALLENGE
A recurrent and frustrating theme of narrow defeats has continued over the last two games. Against both Darlington Mowden Park and, last week, Chinnor the team have been competitive but again fell just short. One losing bonus point was a meagre return for all the effort and improvements the players have made.
Those who braved the weather and travelled to watch the game against an expensively assembled Chinnor side had only praise for our performance. To be denied even a point was justice as rough as the conditions. We have a steep slope to climb but this is no time for pessimism. We are learning and that elusive victory will come. A lengthy injury list is another challenge for Andy Pratt and his coaches but at Chinnor it gave opportunities to two debutants, full back Will Waddington and front row man Gene Syminton. There were good reports about the contribution of both players. A word of praise, too, for Alex Meads, the UK student who has stepped up from the Pilgrims and done very good job in the Number 12 shirt Another welcome addition to the squad list was Jonathan (JJ) Murray who made his first appearance of the season from the replacements bench. Having taken a break from game, together with heavy work commitments, JJ is now back in training. It is good to have one of last season’s leading try scorers available for selection. One negative from the Chinnor match was the red card issued late in the second half to Sean Stapleton. Our captain was sent off together with one of the home side’s players but having studied he video evidence he contested the decision. It was unsuccessful and he was banned from playing for six matches.
The injury situation in the senior squad is a real distraction as we approach the run up to Christmas. Currently missing are Sam Sterling, Tom Best, Harvey Young, Jamie Stephens, Kyan Braithwaite, Sam Kenny, Sam Rogers and Aiden Moss.
Harvey, Tom and Jamie all suffered knocks to head and, quite rightly, the game’s concussion protocol must be observed. That means a graduated return to playing with a mandatory two week lay-off then a further assessment at the end of the third week. All three are going through the process with Jamie hopeful of making a return next week. We will be without Sam Sterling, who has a broken thumb, for several weeks and Sam Rogers is being treated for a bulging disc. Prop Sam Kenny has knee damage and Aiden Moss is struggling with a trapped nerve.
On a more upbeat note. there is a good chance that scrum half Kyan Braithwaite will play against Richmond, having recovered from the heavy knock he suffered at Plymouth five weeks ago.
The last three games have shown that aspects of our game are now coming up to speed at this level. We deserved more out of the Chinnor match – an eight point loss scoring three tries is a kick in the teeth in terms of bonus points but we had real pride in the performance in really tough conditions against an extremely well-resourced squad. The toll of injuries has mounted but it has given some opportunities to second team players who have been doing so well in their league. Will Waddington came in at late notice to make his debut having only joined the club a few weeks previously and played very well. To be able to promote from within and look after ourselves is a real positive. Three of the injuries sustained versus Darlington were concussions. Awareness and education on concussion is vital to our sport as it is a real challenge (with some recent negative headlines) so I thought I should make clear what happens to our players in the event of a concussion. Professional teams have what is known as ‘advanced care settings’ where fully pro players can be monitored daily by trained doctors with access to specialist equipment. This often allows players to return to play within a few days of a concussion (for example, Dan Biggar at the World Cup). We do not have the luxury of this so follow the agreed protocol of two weeks’ mandatory rest from all playing, training and exercise. If players show no further symptoms they then follow a ‘graduated return to play’ in the third week where they can be cleared to play if they continue to be symptom free. So we may see some or all of those players injured v DMP return for next week. Players’ health is the number one priority – as maddening as that might be to some of them!
A big welcome to Richmond who we have not played in a few seasons now. Enjoy the game.
Andy Pratt, Head of Rugby
TIM SCOTT: 1964 TO 2019
It is with huge sadness that we learned this week of the death of Tim Scott, one of the original members of our Wheelchair Rugby squad, Canterbury Hellfire.
Tim was an ever present as the team climbed the leagues and was always able to hold his own even against the best players in the country. The annoying pick bar on Tim’s chair was used to the team’s advantage. He could sit still with a little smile on his face knowing that once he caught you, you were out of the game.
Tim was involved in every aspect of Hellfire and served on the committee as both the players representative and youth team coach, a role he carried out for Bromley Rugby Club before an accident confined him to a wheelchair. It never altered his zest for life and his fund raising activities even included taking part in the Canterbury Bike ride.
Wheelchair Rugby Chairman Brian Pitchford said: “Tim was a true clubman who inspired everyone around him. He never saw a problem but looked at life as a challenge. His engineers’ brain was always at work solving many issues that we had with chairs and equipment. He will be missed by the whole section, and our thoughts and love are with Nic, Fenn, Elliot, Tanya and all his family at this sad time”
The club is to hold its second Christmas Market and the date is Sunday, December 8th. The market will be open from 10am to 2pm and it’s a great opportunity to grab that surprise present from a variety of stall holders. We welcome small, local businesses, charities, schools and club members to come and sell their products. The market will be held in the lunch marquee so goods will not get wet and, hopefully, the event will not be affected by weather. The Marquee can hold 15 stalls only and has limited access to electrical sockets. We regret that we cannot accept stallholders who wish to prepare, cook and sell fresh food as we have club caterers. Pitches cost £10 which will be payable on the day. To book a pitch go to the club web site: www.cantrugby.co.uk where there is an application form.
Here’s the ideal way to take the strain out of the drive to Blackheath for our pre-Christmas game in December 21st. A supporters bus will be heading up the M2 from the club and it costs £30 per head including food. Bookings will be on a first come, first served basis so e-mail Giles Hilton at: firstname.lastname@example.org and make sure of a seat.