RUGBY ROUND-UP: Old Mid-Whitgiftians are already in training to prepare for next season, after the disappointment of relegation last term.
For the first time since the leagues began in 1990, MidWives are not competing in the London leagues, having dropped to Surrey 1 at the end of last season.
“The club makes no bones about our desire to return to higher divisions,” Gerry Murphy, Old Mids’ press officer, said, “but it relishes the prospect of facing some strong sides in a division they do not underestimate, and we’ll be enjoying some matches nearer to home.”
Also in Surrey 1 for 2016-2017 with MidWives will be Old Whitgiftians, Purley-John Fisher and near neighbours Chipstead, ensuring six derby clashes for each club during the season, which kicks off in September.
MidWives (notionally the Trinity old boys’ club) come up against Old Whits (old boys from their fellow Foundation school) is the second game on the fixture list.
Training has begun at Old Mids’ Lime Meadow Avenue ground in Sanderstead, with more than 50 turning up for the first evening three weeks ago. The appointment of two new head coaches, in Andy Edwards, a former Old Mid, and George Daniels, an accomplished player with Winchester, Newbury and Beckenham, has helped to stimulate interest.
Edwards and Daniels have been working together at Reigate over the last two seasons and their hard work in turning around that club has not gone unnoticed. Both are experienced coaches who have worked together in a number of centres of excellence, including the Brian Ashton Rugby Academy in France and the Investec programme at Pennyhill Park with the 2013 England squad.
Edwards has written to all players and laid out the main objectives of this new phase. A return to the London divisions is an obvious target but this will only be achieved through the strengthening of the club as a whole, with new players recruited and a strong 2nd XV ensuring stiff competition for places. There will also be a drive towards strengthening the social and community networks which are an essential part of modern rugby clubs.
Some of the glory days of Old Mids were when they won the Surrey Cup three times in the 1980s and 1990s. The new season brings the opportunity to compete in the Surrey Shield as well as the RFU Junior Vase, the latter offering the prospect of what Edwards referred to as “a cheeky trip to Twickers!”
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