Rugby touches down in Japan
Rugby converges on Japan this month for the World Cup when 20 international teams line-up against each other in a six-week competition, with England’s opening game scheduled for 22nd September in the city of Sapporo. Here, we look at the game closer to home
Tunbridge Wells Rugby Football Club (TWRFC) has a history dating back to 1931 and, in a geographical anomaly, the pitch at its ground at St Marks sits half in Kent and half in Sussex. That quirk aside, it has a track record in nurturing new talent and adapting to the demands of sport in a changing world of which TWRFC is most proud.
“Under our new chairman, Mike Rigby, and the executive board, we have a vision to be a volunteer-based community club – one that champions sport for players of all ages, gender, diversity and ability and that enables them to play to the best of their ability on first class facilities,” says Graham Withers, TWRFC’s press officer.
“More than half of the current First XV squad are home-grown, most having come through our hugely successful mini, junior and academy sections, with the rest of the senior squad made up of talented and ambitious British and overseas players who have been attracted by our success.
“We run three senior Saturday teams catering for those wishing to play both serious and social rugby together with a thriving veterans squad. And we’ve been running girls-only rugby (Year 7 and above) since 2014 with considerable success. The U15’s reached the 2018 national semi-finals and the U18’s won every Kent competition, cup and league in 2019,” adds Graham.
“The junior section is the bedrock of the club with nearly 550 registered players. Our academy is the heartbeat of the club and the challenge it faces is the same as in many sports – keeping the next generation interested. To do this we are proud of our ‘one club’ ethos and, with this in mind, coaches have gone out into the school community at both at primary and secondary level.
“For 2019-20 we’re seeking to grow youth membership, strengthen and deepen the senior squads, invest further in the club’s assets and, in an increasingly professional era, grow our commercial partnerships.”
In the spotlight
Paul is a TWRFC “legend”, still turning out regularly whilst in his 50’s. He also has two daughters committed to the sport.
“I started playing at TWRFC when I was 15. Rugby was amateur then, the rules very different and effectively it was altogether different from the sport we know today,” says Paul, who is an ex-First XV captain and national division and county player and is now the club’s U18 girls’ head coach.
“One of the major recent changes is the fast-growing female game. For me the benefits of helping girls buy into the rugby family and develop confidence in themselves both physically and mentally, work as a team and learn how to deal with success and disappointment is a source of massive personal pride and achievement.
“I have two daughters playing rugby. Thea, 17, has just been selected for the Centre of Excellence at Quins along with seven of her team-mates, which is a massive achievement for them all considering the speed of development in women’s rugby at the moment. And Ellie, 20, is part of the Harlequins women squad – a terrific accomplishment given the levels of player skill increases year-on-year.”
Tonbridge Juddians unveil new signing
Tonbridge Juddian’s Rugby Club’s first new signing of the summer is England U20 back rower and Saracens Academy member Jack Nay.
Jack, who starred for England at the U20 World Championship held in Georgia in 2017-18 as well as in the Six Nations, joins TJs from the Toronto Arrows in Canada where he was on loan for the 2019 Major League Rugby Season.
The 21-year-old is aiming to make a big impression as TJs push for promotion to National 1 League, the third tier of English Rugby. They kick-off their league campaign with a home fixture against Leicester Lions on 7th September.
- Visit tjrfc.co.uk
“I’ve played rugby for 38 years, representing the county and several clubs in England and Scotland but my time at TWRFC has been my longest association with the sport,” says Tim. In fact, the game is something of a family affair with sons Max, 20, and Laurie, 17, daughter Martha, 16, and wife Abigail all involved in the one form or another. “Rugby really is a family affair for the McCabes. My wife Abigail basically runs the show and, without her organisation skills and support, none of us would be able to function,” remarks Tim.“What I love most about the sport is how it has enabled me to travel all over the world playing, spectating and meeting some of the most talented and inspirational people imaginable along the way.”
Heathfield & Waldron RFC
At H&W RFC we are a friendly, successful and developing club with a philosophy to instill a love of rugby in the players by having an inclusive style and making it fun. New members, players, parents and supporters of any age, gender, shape and physical ability are always welcome! We play in the top rugby tier in the county while rotating selection to ensure all members play. We are also very proud of our record and run two very successful teams throughout the season, playing in many of the best tournaments across the South East.
Volunteers, many trained to RFU Level 1 and Level 2, undertake the coaching at the club, while parent volunteers manage the squad.
- For full details on fixtures and more about the club, visit hwrfc.co.uk
Image © RTWRFC