The season goes into its final Spring phase with six games remaining, three of them at home, and although National Division One has been a sobering experience for us the form produced in our last two matches showed that we can compete with strongest. While the contests against Chinnor and Richmond were real team efforts it was our forwards who won the lions share of the praise. Taking on physically bigger packs has tested us in almost every game but the way we dealt with two of the front runners in the league was top class. Those supporters who travelled to Richmond last week might be forgiven for thinking that we would get a rinsing from the league leaders. After all they stuck 50 points past us here at Marine Travel Ground earlier in the season. Instead we outplayed them in the first half, grabbed the lead soon after the break and many dared to hope that the biggest upset of the season was on the cards. It didn’t quite happen but make no mistake there were a lot worried people in the Richmond camp. It may be that the constant changes caused by a massive injury list are easing slightly and the pack, at least, has a more settled look about it with Billy Young and recent acquisition Stefan North bringing stability to the front row, At Richmond it was heartening to see lock Will Scholes return to the squad following major dental surgery which it was thought would sideline him for the rest of the season. Max Craven was another back in the frame after an injury lay-off. We were without skipper Sean Stapleton who was attending a wedding in Sri Lanka and he is not back in time for the Hull game. However, there may be more options for the selectors shortly with Jamie Stephens, Sam Sterling, Tom Best and Aiden Moss all seen at training.
RAMS LOSE POINTS
In our next game on March 21 we head to the Thames Valley to take on a top four side, Rams who, until recently had their eyes on promotion. Those prospects have been effectively killed by the RFU when it announced that the club have been deducted five match points and fined £8,500 for an administrative error.
In addition, payments towards travel expenses and referee costs for the current season have been withheld. The full points deduction was 20 but fifteen of hose have been suspended for two years. So what was Rams crime? The RU acknowledges that it was a minor administrative error while the Berkshire club were in National Division 2 in the 2018/19 season. A club official inadvertently ticked the wrong box on a form relating to payments to players. It was not done deliberately and dishonestly says the Union and the club was not in breach of the salary cap that season.
Rams have held up their hands and admitted they made an error but it draws attention to the levels of bureaucracy surrounding the game and it is mostly club volunteers who have to deal with them. In this case does the punishment fit the crime? You have to wonder.
Sunday. March 8th saw a significant game with the Under 18s playing Sevenoaks in the semi final of the Kent RFU Colts Cup. Whilst an important match in its own right, it was significant also as the last home game this generation will play together. Tony Allan deserves great praise in seeing these lads through from six years old to the brink of adulthood. An age grade team in any sport should always be judged on the number of young players who are introduced to and start a lifetime within the game. Tony and his assistants, throughout the years, have smashed this and hopefully a great many of their players will continue playing wherever they find themselves in future. Tony has agreed to oversee their transition into Saturday rugby here at Canterbury with many already having made their senior debuts in recent weeks. At the heart of all future first teams should be players such Elliot Lusher, Jamie Stephens, Tom Williams, Charlie Kingsman and Alex Wake-Smith who have come from the club’s fantastic youth set up.
Andy Pratt , Head of Rugby
CANTERBURY ON STREAM
Want to watch the game but can’t get to the ground? For the last few months that has been no problem as all home first team games have been live streamed/broadcast on to You Tube. The service was extended to our away match at Richmond and you could also watch the game from behind a pint in the comfort of the Old City pub. Behind the initiative is one of our sponsors MMS-360 LIVE, a local firm based in Goodenstone which specialises in aerial and video photography and also live streaming of sports events, both personal and corporate,
You will see their cameras around the ground beaming the match via YouTube onto www.CanterburyRugbyLive.com . This live streaming is also useful for clubs whose teams have a lot of travelling and we hope that a few people 280 miles away in Hull will be watching!
Here at The Marine Travel Ground we hope that you will be outside supporting the lads but you can follow commentary by Lorinda Belmonte and James Limmers, a current Canterbury player, on www.CanterburyRugbyLive.com and use the hash tags #LorindaLive and #LimmersLive for interaction.
For other information about MMS-360 see their web site at www.mms-360.co.uk
HISTORY AND THE HILTONS
As we celebrate our 90th season former President Steve Uglow, who is writing a comprehensive history of the club, has unearthed evidence that Canterbury rugby really has its roots in the 19th century. Steve has received from Peter Henderson of Kings School press cuttings from the 19th century which report that a side of Canterbury Gentlemen took on the school at rugby. That was in November and December 1873. Remarkable one family has been involved from those years to the present day.
In that side was Alexander Musgrove Hilton, great grandfather of our present chairman Giles Hilton. The Hilton connection continued between 1881 and 1884 when there was a more concerted effort to found a Canterbury rugby club and regular games were played over two seasons. Prominent in those years were Stringer Hilton, as captain, Edward Hilton and Robert Stapleton Hilton, all sons of Henry, the vicar of Milstead and distant cousins to Giles.