NOT OUR WEEK
There is a law which cannot be found in any recognised legal system
but is with us all the same. ‘Sod’s law’ is a harsh instrument which dispenses with notions of guilt and innocence and delights in punishing those down on their luck. The club’s senior squad seems to be firmly in its grip. We try not to moan about injury problems as they will always be factors in a physical game like rugby, but the build up to last week’s trip to Sale left us wondering which gods we had offended.
The number of players on the injured list is already daunting when it comes to selection but to lose three of the back division between Tuesday night’s training and Friday’s departure to the North West was well…sod’s law at its best/worst.
Fly half Charlie Kingsman was ruled out by a head injury and then came the news that Tom Best was ill and in no shape to train or play. Bad enough you might think but there was more to come. On Thursday Sam Sterling was taking a school training session when he pulled up with a ham string problem. Luckily we had Alex Meads available to fill the fly half role while two versatile full backs, Aiden Moss and Will Waddington, played in the centre. All looked good as we made a promising start to the match but in the first Sale attack the referee began whipping out the yellow cards. We collected three before half time and the game slipped away. Sod’s law hs struck again. The refs have a difficult job but a bit of consistency does not go amiss. Late in the day when we might have had a sniff of a bonus point and Sale were leaking penalties the cards stayed firmly in the ref’s pocket. C’est la vie.
BLOW TO OLD ELTHAMIANS
News of the sudden death of Kobus Paulsen, the man who has bankrolled Old Elthamians rise to prominence over the past ten years, came as a shock to everyone. Kobus was only 54 years old.
As well as being the club’s chief benefactor he was a long-term supporter and a hugely popular and charismatic figure with players, officials and supporters. His untimely passing is a tragedy for his family but also raises questions about the club’s reliance on one principal backer. It leaves Old Elthamians in financial limbo as it is common knowledge that their squad is among the best paid in the league. Sponsorship is the lifeblood of all clubs in the National Leagues but here at Canterbury that support comes from a variety of companies and individuals. We have always viewed this as the most prudent way to ensure our future and will continue to do so. It is not only the senior squad who benefit. Our sponsorship and fund raising is spread in such a way that every section is supported.
A memorial service for Kobus is being held on Thursday next week, January 23rd at Christ Church, Chislehurst at 2pm.
The trip to Sale was always going to be a tough assignment but the loss of our 10, 12 and 13 during the week (all got through the match against Rosslyn Park) was tough to take. We have desperately tried to get continuity this year but injury and unavailability have often robbed us of this.
To receive four yellow cards made it harder – an early period of pressure following an avoidable Sale line-break not only accounted for two of those cards but set the tone for the rest of the game. Being new to the league and at the bottom of the table means we have to work that much harder to present a good picture for the referee. The stats show we have conceded fewer penalties than our opponents but we’re learning it’s less about the volume of infringements and more about the context in which we conceded. Another lesson in a tough year but one we will absorb. The second half we showed great character, resolve and application which has been a hallmark of our efforts this season.
JAMIE PLAYS ON
Good news this week that prop Jamie Dever, who was due to leave us this month, has decided to extend his stay to the end of the season. He is included in today’s squad after returning from the USA. That positive note for the front row was tempered by an injury to prop Alex Wake-Smith in last week’s game at Sale. Alex took a knock to the head and must now go through the concussion protocols which means a minimum three weeks lay-off. He joins fly half Charlie Kingsman on the concussion recovery path. Two other regular members of the senior squad, George Micans and Sam Kenny, have decided to take some time out from the game. Add these to an injury list which currently stands at ten players and it highlights the heavy demands placed on semi-professional players. It certainly justifies the call from many quarters for fewer games to be played
LUNCH WITH SIMON SHAW
One of the great names of English rugby, Simon Shaw MBE, is the guest speaker at our City Lunch in March. In a remarkable career, which lasted 23 seasons, the 6ft 8ins lock, won 71 international caps for England, played twice for the British & Irish Lions and helped Wasps to lift ten trophies. He was the first man to play 200 Premiership games and finally retired at the age of 38 after finishing his career with Toulon in France.
His path to the top would hardly be recognised b today’s Academy products. Simon did not take rugby seriously until he was sixteen, just after his family moved from Spain to England. By the time he was 17 he was playing for Bristol and he represented England at Age Group levels.
He joined Wasps in 1997 and enjoyed a long period of success with what was then one of the Premiership’s strongest clubs. In 2011 he decided to finish his club career in France and moved to Toulon. For longevity Simon’s rugby odyssey is never likely to be bettered at first class level and he has a wealth of stories and insights to impart. Oh! He can also claim another unlikely record. In 2000 he became he first lock in the Premiership to land a drop goal. They still can’t believe it at Bath where it happened. So on March 19th come and listen to a man who has done it all.