CHAMPIONS! Sevenoaks Rugby Club top London 1 South Division league and gain promotion with 26-10 away win
SEVENOAKS Rugby Club became champions and secured promotion to the London and South East Regional Premier League (Level 5) on Saturday with a 26-10 win away to Thurrock RFC in front of around 200 travelling fans. The 1st team also made history as this is the club’s highest ever standing.
At the start of the day Oaks were one of four teams in promotion and play-off contention, knowing that a bonus point win would guarantee the top slot in an incredibly tight League. They won in style and with other results seeing Brighton leapfrog Camberley and Medway for a play-off slot versus Colchester, Sevenoaks ended the day as Champions three points clear of the chasing pack.
Special scenes greeted the final whistle. A suitably decorous ‘pitch invasion’ in the Essex afternoon sunshine brought players, coaches, physios, managers, families, supporters and friends together as one club to celebrate promotion and an outstanding season of success.
The match was a compelling and open tussle. For the first 60 minutes the prospect of a bonus point win was very much in the balance as Thurrock took the game to Oaks with strong ball carrying, precise kicking from hand, and the right wing proving a particular handful.
Oaks had a nightmare of a start when Thurrock went over for a try within the first three minutes. Then gradually and reassuringly Oaks began to dominate. A telling converted try by Matt Holmes just before the half time whistle to follow up on the earlier score by Richard Adenyi-Jones meant Oaks had gained the momentum and at the half time whistle they led 12-5.
In the second half, Oaks’ next try was conclusive, special and had every hallmark of the hours of training the navy and golds have put in during the campaign. The players moved the ball rapidly to the outside channel from within their own half before a sequence of structured phase plays created a gaping hole for Oaks’ to score one of their best-worked team tries of the season. When Sean Derrick secured the fourth try and the bonus point, the drum beat and roars of the travelling faithful reached full volume.
With a full 20 minutes still to play, Thurrock threw everything at Oaks and managed to secure anotrher try, but Oaks, as they have done with tenacious regularity this season, fought like warriors to keep their line in tact and closed out the bonus point win.
Trevor Nicholson, Sevenoaks Rugby Club Chairman, said: “What a very special day for our Club. Thank you to everyone for your support for the whole season and especially to Head Coach, Adam Bowman and Director of Rugby, Roger McKerlie who have tirelessly devised, finessed and tweaked a constantly moving senior squad structure that proved resilient and skilful enough to beat every team in the league once, and most of them twice.”
“The One Club spirit at Sevenoaks Rugby is stronger than ever, with members from across the generations out in force at Thurrock, the Acorns winning the Kent Plate Final, the 3s winning the League, the 2s and 4s League runners-up and our juniors going from strength to strength.”
“We would also like to say thank you for the warm messages of congratulation from so many other clubs. We appear to be popular champions and as we enter the final few weeks there is much to look forward to in the shape of tours, end of season awards, sevens tournaments and two of our Acorns players forming part of a world record attempt to play the highest ever match of rugby up Everest. Like those intrepid adventurers raising vital funds for the work our charity Partner Wooden Spoon, the Club as a whole will continue to aim high.
“A huge thank you again to everyone who does so much and gives up hours of time to ensure Sevenoaks Rugby Club is a fun, friendly and welcoming family place for all to play and watch rugby at the heart of the community.”
Director of Rugby, Roger McKerlie said: “Our passionate belief in being One Club is not lip service or a marketing sound bite, we live and breathe it every day.
“I am delighted that the 1st team fulfilled their potential by winning the League and I am equally pleased to see our other three senior sides coming first or second in their leagues, the Acorns bringing home the Kent Plate cup and the conveyor belt of success at junior level with the Under 12s, 13s and 14s boys all being county champions, the Under 15s boys being plate champions and the Academy 1st team squad winning the Kent Under 18s 7s.”
“Of course while we are revelling in the season’s achievements, we know that we have lots to do over the next few years and the planning has already started so it will be a busy off season. For now, congratulations and thanks to the players, coaches and medical staff who have managed this amazing 12 months.”
Head Coach, Adam Bowman added: “A hugely special day for the senior squad and club. As I mentioned to the squad after the game, this is not a 1st XV promotion, but a Senior Squad promotion. A massive well done to all players and staff involved, everyone has worked incredibly hard to achieve this. I am already looking forward to the challenges of next season and a new league.”