Rugby club’s apprentice gives it a try with local schools

RUGBY ROUND-UP: Warlingham has employed a Rugby Community Coach under an innovative apprenticeship scheme, the first club in the area to embark on this project which is supported by the Rugby Football Union, the national governing body, and Worthing College.

Ready to get ruck in: Warlingham RFC's new apprentice, Harry Blain

All set to get ruck in: Warlingham RFC’s new apprentice, Harry Blain

Harry Blain, now 17 but a former pupil at South Croydon’s Cumnor House prep school, has recently taken up his role at Warlingham and is already visiting several schools in the area to introduce their pupils to the game and coach them.

The apprenticeship is also supported by Active Surrey and the Surrey Employers’ Grant and Warlingham are keen that the project will encourage youngsters, both boys and girls, to try their hand at rugby both at their school and at the club.

Peter Wrightson, Warlingham’s club chairman, said, “This is a new venture for the Club and we’re delighted to have Harry on board. With Rugby 7s, for men and women, being included in the 2016 Olympics, we are sure that our sport will grow enormously. We want to be at the forefront with local schools in exposing them to a new Olympic sport.

“We are also looking at women’s rugby at the club as well as rugby for tots which will supplement our Mini and Junior section which already has nearly 500 boys and girls.”

Things out on the paddock are looking up for Warlingham’s first XV, too, as they got their first league win of the season last Saturday, beating Heathfield and Waldron 40-19 in London 2SE, with centre Brad Saffery scoring three tries.

Scrum half Steven Murtagh darted over the tryline from broken play within a minute of the start, giving full back Joe McEvoy an easy conversion. Despite Heathfield enjoying a lot of possession, the Warlingham’s defence, particularly their “Muscles from Brussels” prop Yassine Boufaied and flanker Jack Wrightson, kept the home side’s tryline safe.

Top form: Brad Saffery, scorer of three tries

Top form: Brad Saffery, scorer of three tries

The Warlingham back line looked much improved with fly half James Agate spreading passes long and wide. One such training-pitch move saw McEvoy steam through the centre to score the second, but unconverted, try.

The second half saw Heathfield grab a try, but from the restart a sharp Warlingham back line move gave Saffery the opportunity to make a penetrative run for the third try. Heathfield then butchered another certain try with a knock on and, from the ensuing run out of defence, Agate eventually got the ball to Saffery for his second, the bonus-point try converted by McEvoy.

Within a minute Agate again released Saffery into space and the centre dotted
down and the result was effectively sealed.

The win lifts Warlingham three slots off the bottom of the table. On Saturday, Warlingham travel to Tunbridge Wells, who are fourth in the table.

It’s been a less than auspicious start to the London 3SW season for Purley John Fisher, but in last Saturday’s match away to Camberley they overcame some outside influences to claim a bonus point as they lost 21-15.

Traffic problems on the M25 (Warlingham’s game was similarly affected, kicking off an hour late because of a delayed referee) meant that PJF took the pitch with only 14 and had to rejig their line up. Not exactly a good start. However they dug in deep.

The side did look dangerous when they managed to link together a few phases of good possession and from one such attack were unlucky that the ref did not see them cross to score. The defence began to work as the side became more vocal as the game went on. Set pieces are coming together – the team looks to be a couple of weeks behind the rest of the league.

Which makes this Saturday’s game against Old Wellingtonians at the Pightle in a bottom of the table clash all the more important.

For Old Mid-Whitgiftians, their win the previous week against PJF looks to have been a bit of a false dawn: last Saturday, they suffered a demoralising 43-7 hammering at home against Ellingham and Ringwood. Their journey on Saturday to New Milton, a club that has also had a less-than-impressive opening month to the season, will be important to pick up some points.

Down in the county divisions, the gloomy trend for local clubs continued as the sides got their league seasons underway, with Old Whitgiftians losing 10-7 at Old Blues in Surrey 1 and Old Walcountians going down 53-10 against Old Wimbledonians at home.

In Surrey 2, Streatham and Croydon – promotion challengers for much of last season – made a disappointing start by losing 22-15 at Cranleigh, while Croydon, after a wretched relegation season last term, kicked off with a 37-15 reverse at Old Amplefordians.

On Saturday, Walcountians travel to Tooting to play Battersea Ironsides, while the Whitgift old boys side host Kingston. Streatham and Croydon have the short trip to The Meads at Chipstead, while Croydon host Old Rutlishians.

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