A GROWING MATURITY
Seven and counting. That’s the story of the first team’s winning run which started back in October with a home victory over Clifton. The target now is to maintain that good form through to the Christmas break and that will not be easy. Our opponents on December 15th, Barnes, have an enviable away record this season and then we travel to Tonbridge Juddians for the last game of the year. Confidence is high, but nothing can be guaranteed.
However, one thing the side has proved in the present successful spell is their ability to win tight contests. The mental toughness we showed at Henley and, last week, at Bury St Edmunds is a mark of the team’s growing maturity. As we approach 2019 we will need that quality if we are to challenge for the title or the promotion play-off spot. Those who recall last season’s good first half performance will also remember how we stumbled in the final four months. Injuries played a part in the decline and this time, while still having fitness issues, we are in a better place. Andy Pratt has built greater depth in his squad and that has proved crucial. On the subject of injuries, it was good to hear that tight head prop Alex Wake-Smith is back in the frame. He scored a try in Pilgrims win at Old Albanians. On a sorrier note, the expected comebacks of skipper Max Cantwell and flanker Seb Roche have been put on hold. Max picked up a training injury while Seb had a recurrence of his shoulder problem in last week’s Pilgrims game. On a more optimistic note, raise a glass today to our Ladies side who go into the New Year as unbeaten leaders of their league.
As 2018 draws to a close I just want to thank all volunteers, staff, members, sponsors, supporters and players for another great year throughout the club. The mini & youth teams continue to expand with over 400 registered boys and girls supported by 80 volunteer coaches. A personal highlight has been watching my son and daughter start their rugby here and seeing the great work that Chris Elworthy and his team do on a Sunday. The Women’s team numbers have also grown and they currently are beating the 1st XV in terms of league position, sitting top of their league on maximum points. We continue to field five’s teams plus the occasional (Kent Shield winning) Vets XV. To continue our growth and to tackle the many challenges we face, we need to reinforce the foundations of the club – volunteers. Volunteering at the club is not just about coaching, although clearly it is a huge part of it – there are countless areas off the field such as social media, finance, safeguarding, grounds, to name but a few. If you feel you can contribute in anyway in 2019 please go to cantrugby.co.uk/volunteers to find out more. The club would be very grateful. Finally, on behalf of the 1st XV squad, many thanks to all those who make match-days at the club so special. The list is long but I have to mention Team Archer behind the bar, Giles, Phillipa, Ian, Candy, Alison, Ted & his team and the U12s on gate / ball-boy duty.
Canterbury and East Kent has lost two stalwarts of the game within a week of one another in John Carley and Brian Chapman. Both men became County Presidents, John in Kent and Brian in Hertfordshire.
John died in Deal on November 28th after a period of illness; Brian in Canterbury, unexpectedly, on December 4th . Business took Brian to Hertfordshire where he became a stalwart of the Hitchin Rugby Club but Canterbury was his first love. When ever the team were playing north of London he appeared on the touchline to give us his support and he eventually returned to the city.
John was one of the most respected Kent referees of his generation and subsequently became President of the County Referees Society as well Kent RFU. His legacy is carried on by grandson Matthew, who played rugby for our junior sides, and is now one of England’s top referees.
The funeral is at Barham Crematorium next Tuesday, December 18th at 12.40pm. There are no details of Brian’s funeral arrangements at the moment but they will be published on the club web site when they become available. We extend our sympathy to both Brian and John’s families.
MAGNIFICENT CANCER SUPPORT
The club’s Macmillan Cancer Support Day raised a magnificent £10,000 for the charity. Thanks to the efforts of sponsors Nick Finch, Tony Carroll and David Woodward we were able to run the charity day in conjunction with the first team match against Old Albanian. The team backed the event by playing in pink shirts and everyone was a winner as they claimed victory and a staggering sum was raised for Macmillan.
Nick Finch, Director of Finch Landscape, said: “We were thrilled to be a part of it. We’ve supported the club for years and knew that the team and Canterbury supporters would all be behind the effort to help Macmillan. We are over the moon that over £10,000 was raised. Unfortunately, a large majority of us know somebody who has lived with, or sadly passed away, from cancer; we wanted to raise as much money as e could for a charity which provides such vital care for family and friends.”
WE MADE IT MEMORABLE
The generosity shown by supporters and friends of the club for helping out the local community is extraordinary. Young Adult Carers, young people who care unpaid for a relative or friend, had the chance to see the England rugby team in action when their support group won four tickets for the England v Australia Autumn international in a charity ballot. But they faced a problem over transport to Twickenham. They contacted Head of Rugby Andy Pratt to se if we had a bus going to the game. We didn’t but Andy spoken with Alastair Bayliss, our sponsor and bus provider, and he immediately laid o a six seater. When the story was told at the London Irish pre-match lunch everyone dug into their pockets to help make the carers day even more memorable. We have received the following message from a Canterbury, Thanet and Dover Carers Support group worker: “I just wanted to say a huge thank you for your club’s generosity. Not only did we get to Twickenham and home comfortably and safely , I was able to buy the Carer’s a rugby shirt they could wear on the day. They had food and also bought souvenirs. We got to meet two of the players post-match and have selfies and autographs and also met and chatted to some retired players. I did mention your generosity to them when chatting and they said how amazing that was. So thank you once again for making this amazing day out even more special.”
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
There will be pre-Christmas action here at the Marine Travel Ground on Friday, December 21st. In conjunction with Kent RFU and the RFU we’re running another Friday Night Lights when four local teams will be taking part in 15-a-sides games. The idea is to target former players returning home for Christmas. There’s also a charitable side to it for the ‘For Jimmy’ charity. Jimmy Mizens was killed ten years ago aged 16 in South East London – his family are a big part of Sidcup rugby club who are running a similar event? So it’s an opportunity to help preserve the memory of a promising young rugby player and to whet your appetite before the first team’s Kent derby at Tonbridge Juddians the following day