SLACK STEVENS, our ageing front row with no front teeth, reports on changes going on at the area’s top-ranked rugby club
It’s fair to say that Warlingham want to forget the 2016-2017 season. After all, they went an entire league season without a single win to remember.
But with pre-season training underway for the senior squads for the past month, there’s been plenty of changes at Hamsey Green among the coaching and playing staff for the fresh start offered in London 3 SW when the season kicks off on September 9
Nick Warren joined the club at the end of last year as director of rugby, and he has recruited vigorously to ensure Warlingham’s fortunes turn round.
Warren has used his considerable experience and player contacts. Signings include second row forward Paddy Green, who joins as a player/coach from Old Elthamians, prop Alex Kelly, from Cardiff University, second row Alex Wingfield, from Portsmouth University, personal trainer and No8 Conor McDonald from Rosslyn Park, centre Matt Richards from Sutton and Epsom, and backs player/coach Nick Canty from London Irish.
Canty’s brother, James Canty, has also signed up from Exeter University and fly-half Alex Stoddart, from Zingari, New Zealand, has joined to add a bit of All Black magic. Although recovering from an injury, scrum-half Stefano Nella is hopeful of playing early in 2018.
“There is a great attitude among the players and they’re very keen to get some positive results right from the start,” Warren said.
“With these new players joining the club the prospects look good for a successful season. I’m aiming to field four senior sides next season so that all players get match time on a regular basis.”
That means that as well as fielding the Croydon area’s top side (the next-best four local clubs are contesting Surrey 1 next season, the tier below Warlingham), Warren is also looking to restore club’s all-inclusive approach to the game, with the notorious Warlingham 4th XV taking to the field once again.
Immortalised in a novel and even portrayed in a stage play, the Warlingham 4s have been notable for having a front row with a combined age of 150, and as a side who played with the rallying cry of, “We don’t give a shit about being shit”.
At, how can we say, a more serious standard of play, Warlingham’s coaching team is boosted by John Hosken, a former Old Elthamians and Kent scrum-half, as well as Warlingham’s top points scorer Mark Kozminski.
A number of last season’s academy side , the Wolves, have now graduated to senior rugby and several are likely to feature in the top two sides for what can often be a gruelling schedule of fixtures.
Warlingham’s first XV have two confirmed pre-season friendlies in the coming weeks, at home on August 19 against Old Dunstonians (3pm kick-off) and on September 2 at Lewes.
Their first league fixture is at Trojans on September 9, with Petersfield visiting Hamsey Green the following Saturday.
Entry at Hamsey Green for all fixtures is free, and there is some parking at the ground, too. The club bar is open on match days, and food is also on sale.
Senior training sessions at Hamsey Green continue every Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7.30pm. Minis and junior rugby, one of Warlingham’s acknowledged strengths, is due to recommence on Sunday mornings from 10am in September.
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