Confessions of a Rugby Amateur

Confessions of a Rugby Amateur

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The Mighty Tring Rangers

For the last four years I have been playing for Tring, a small market town in Hertfordshire. Belying our ‘sleepy backwater’ tag, we find ourselves battling with some genuine big guns in National 3 London and South East.

The club was established in 1964 and is still relatively young. It was not long ago we were languishing in Herts and Middlesex 4. However, Tring has a phenomenal minis and juniors section which runs on Sundays which means there is always a fantastic conveyor belt of talented players coming through. I first started playing at Tring in the Under 12s and enjoyed many years of junior club Rugby.

After school, I went to New Zealand, as I mentioned in the previous post. I played for the Kaierau club and was selected for Wanganui U-20s. As I have said before, this was a fantastic year for me and certainly helped influence how I play the game now.

I captained my University side (University of Liverpool) and also played for four years at Waterloo. The Drummers were in National 1 (now the Championship) at the time so unfortunately my first team appearances were limited to the Lancashire Cup. Nevertheless, it was an excellent four years, working with some truly great players and coaches. The problem I had was that I was playing too much - training four times a week and playing twice for Uni and Waterloo - and it started to take its toll. I suffered a number of relatively serious injuries during these four years which frustratingly set back my development as a player.

So after Uni, with my naïve and possibly far-fetched dreams of playing professionally shattered, I came home to my roots and returned to Tring. When I arrived, we had just been promoted to London and South East 2 with a fine crop of players who the majority had come through the minis and juniors section. We narrowly missed out on promotion that season, losing in the play offers to Thanet Wanderers, but we were not to be denied the season after.

Our first season in what is now National 3 London and South East was certainly an experience. Just when all was looking bleak and people were beginning to accept that we were out of our depth, we put together a stunning string of results including an away win at Jersey and a home win over Hertford - both would have been totally unthinkable at the start of the year. Since avoiding relegation , we have steadily grown in confidence and have started to push further up the table.

Tring's home support enjoy their Saturdays
Big part of our success at this level has been our form at home. Fortress Cow Lane is a formidable, bleak and desolate place for a referee let alone visiting team! Any preconceived ideas of a quaint, mild mannered, countrified club are soon shattered as the bar empties and the loyal Tring supporters find their full voices. Well lubricated with local ales, the home fans are a particularly vocal bunch, their roars of encouragement or vitriolic abuse create something of a bubbling cauldron. It’s not exactly Galatasaray in the mid 1990s but it’s certainly a shock for many visiting teams and refs alike!

However, the most important factor in our humble team’s success is the social aspect. We are an amateur club and play for the fun of the Game rather than the brown envelopes afterwards. We do get incentives - £50 vouchers at the Chairman’s restaurant if we win - but these tend to be exchanged for countless Jaegerbombs at the first opportunity! The great thing about Tring is the team spirit. We are a close nit group of friends brought together by Rugby rather than just a team of individuals. And this definitely transfers onto the pitch. You’re much more likely to go the extra mile, hit that extra tackle, make that extra yard for your mates than a bunch of mercenaries who disappear straight after a match. I’m sure the coach would say we ‘celebrate’ a little too often but without it we’d be half the team…that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

How do you feel about team spirit? Is there still a place for the social side at top level Rugby?

Let me know your thoughts…

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