London Welsh Druids 17 – 7 Chobham 1st XV
It was fantastic to welcome in the New Year with a great match at the historic Old Deer Park rugby ground. Following the disappointment of losing the last match of 2021, and the enforced break from the league this weekend, it was important to offer the Chobham senior players a chance of a run out. Thanks then to our dedicated fixtures team (Nigel Rowlands!) and to London Welsh for the offer of a match. It is great credit to Chobham RFC that an unprecedented mid-season friendly elicited over 40 players looking to play – ensuring we committed to not one, but two senior matches (with the |Mighty Cannons taking on Warlingham).
At Old Deer Park the 1st XV took on London Welsh 2s. Covid (of course!) wreaked havoc on selection with late Friday and Saturday morning changes required. Some might look at a mixed group, late selected and managing multiple positional changes and think that this may preclude a poor afternoon – but Head Coach Billy Davison was happy to report that the opposite was true. The (only) 16 players charged with representing Scarlet & Golds were fantastic! The players responded superbly; not only to the call to focus on what they love about the sport, but also to respect the opportunity to play on a ground steeped in rugby history. Even the playing of “The Green, Green Grass of Home” over the stadium tannoy did not put off the team!
In many ways the team produced one of the best and most committed starts to a game seen all season. Charged with having to repel multiple London Welsh attacks, the Chobham defence remained resolute. Those of us lucky enough to attend were treated to a wonderful afternoon of close, competitive and positive rugby. This was certainly borne out in the possession and territory stats of the first half. With no score registered by either team in the first 25mins it was certainly evident that we were in for an afternoon to remember.
The home team finally scored first (and second) to finish the half just 10-0 ahead. A little more pass accuracy would have certainly seen the visitors challenge even further. To share the half-term break with the Chobham 1st XV was to enjoy being part of team buzzing from a great first half; and ready to attack again. A strong scrum, consistent lineout and committed defending were all in evidence.
With two enforced team changes it was down to match-day coach Robbie Kennard to fetch his boots and jersey from the clubhouse and join the fray! Belief, confidence and sustained pressure saw Chobham cross the line, and convert the try: 10-7. The second half proved as entertaining as the first and with only last ditch tackling on the try line preventing further Chobham scoring more, it was always going to be tight. In the end the hosts scored a deserved try late on to finish the game 17-7. A chance then to enjoy a pint in the fantastic old clubhouse, and to celebrate the players of the day (to the back drop of “Delilah”!). Chobham Player of the Day (chosen by London Welsh) – Aran Parsons. All the players involved can be proud of their efforts – special mention to the ever-improving Sam Goddard and to Harrison Jones: a teenager whose efforts in support of his team-mates was extraordinary. Well done all!
Chobham Cannons 19-24 Warlingham 2s
The Cannons took on Warlingham 2s in the torrential rain making flowing rugby rather difficult. Warlingham saw most of the possession in the opening 20 minutes of the game but the defence stood up well to the barrage of runners with Robbie Brown and Simon Rumsey fronting up. However it was first blood Warlingham before Chobham replied through TJ Sims just before the break, going through multiple phases in tricky conditions. The second half ebbed and flowed between the sides with another try for TJ Sims and a try for Pat Watts, however the Cannons were punished for over playing in the wrong parts of the pitch. Although not the start to 2022 the Cannons would have liked, there’s a lot to be proud of and a performance we can certainly build on.