Confessions of a Rugby Amateur

Confessions of a Rugby Amateur

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Epilogue of a Season

Last Friday marked the official end of the season with the Players’ Dinner and awards. It has been a hugely important season for Tring in which we have made huge strides forward…despite actually finishing lower than last year! But it has also been a long and relentless season so I’m sure everyone is looking forward to some time off to recharge.

The Players’ Dinner is always a somewhat raucous affair - one last chance for the everyone, from 1st to U-17s, let off steam before being handed back to families for the Summer. The format has dramatically improved over the last few years thanks the efforts of Sam ‘Professional MC’ Clapham and club guru Derek Newman. We were ‘warmed up’ with a stand up routine from Deborah, the slightly questionable guest comedienne. It must be a painfully daunting task to perform in front of an entire Rugby club in the middle of nowhere. She started confidently enough but soon dried up unfortunately.

Deborah the 'comedienne'!
Claps then introduced the speeches. This is always the highlight of the evening. There is so much fantastic, behind-the-scenes work that is done to make sure the club functions week to week. I felt a genuine sense of pride in hearing the excellent results and performances through the age groups and teams. I must give a special shout out to John Ball who seems to run both the 3rds and 4ths almost single-handedly!

There were two awards for the 1st team - Most Improved Player and Player of the Season. The first award went to the spring heeled, young-at-heart Mason! At a sprightly 37 years old, you may feel this was an odd choice but I think it would have been unanimous if put to a vote. The scrum was a real issue during the first half of the season. However, Mason has forged a powerful union with Boycy and Jonnobrow in the front row which has really turned round our set piece - so much so that we were winning scrums against the head by the end!

The Player of the Year went to…(fanfare please)…Tommy Newton. He has had a fantastic season, even by his high standards. With a stronger team around him than previous years, Newts has had a bit more space to work his mercurial magic - getting us out of jail on a number of occasions.

John ‘Jim Carrey from Me, Myself and Irene’ Preston won the special Steve Kempster award for Unsung Hero and it was a close call between Jerome and Chris Rose for drunkest person! Mason organised a competitive Naked Mile for all those who hadn’t scored which is always the highlight of any Players’ Dinner!

JP won the Steve Kempster Award

It has been a strange old season of contradictions. The league has been utterly unpredictable and the usual gap between those with money and those without is definitely decreasing. We had by far our most successful season at this level. Compared to last year, we won three more games, scored 120 more points, notched 12 more league points and yet we still finished a position lower in 10th!

However, when put into perspective, this is an excellent achievement. In January, we were rock bottom of the league so to pull back five wins out of last seven games and be within touching distance of mid-table is certainly encouraging. We’re no longer plucky underdogs snatching scraps under the table. We are a genuine and well-established Level 5 team. We no longer rely on a couple of superstars but have a well-rounded team who can compete with the best.

We may not have jumped up the table as we would have hoped - we would be 6th with the same points tally last year - but the team’s cohesion and progression under the nurturing eye of Jon Lambden has given us all the confidence to power on up the table next season.

Personally, I am relieved to have finished the season in one piece! It was probably the one of the best and most enjoyable in my career so far. I felt those two losses at the end took a bit of the wind out of the sales but it is certainly excellent motivation for the Summer. I have set myself some goals for next year:

  • Work on tackling technique - ie, learn more from Radders!
  • Keep focused during Games - concentrate and contribute for 80 minutes
  • Maintain fitness for whole season
  • Score more tries!
Me next year!!!
With these goals and Jonnobrow’s gym routine, I am hoping to force my way into contention for Herts next year.

I just want to play a game at Twickenham during my life…is that too much to ask!!!

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