RUGBY: Lions promoted as unbeaten champions for second time

Josh Lockley in Lions last league game on Saturday PICTURES BY RAY ANDREWS
Josh Lockley in Lions last league game on Saturday PICTURES BY RAY ANDREWS
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Pictures from last league game at Coventry Welsh

Midlands 4 West (South)

Adam Attenborough

Adam Attenborough

Coventry Welsh 13

Rugby Lions 45

In what was going to be the season of all seasons, after the national semi-final disappointment the week before, raising oneself for the final game of a league long since won ultimately proved to be a difficult mind-set, writes Player Coach Rob Dignum.

Irrespective, a fired-up Coventry Welsh away remained, if nothing else a chance to restore pride in an otherwise unblemished season. And so it proved, Lions running out comfortable 13-45 winners, to secure a second undefeated league season as they continue to put themselves firmly back on the rugby map and climb the leagues.

Sam James battles with Coventry Welsh on Saturday

Sam James battles with Coventry Welsh on Saturday

From an outsider’s view, some might consider this is how things should go in the lower realms of league rugby, but when you start with nothing, and I do mean nothing, just 24 short months ago, this achievement is not to be snubbed.

In some ways it is quite poignant that as other ‘bigger’ fixtures were being played in town, Lions quietly went about their business. A trademark of this squad; barring just two blips in 58 outings from those ‘fortunate’ enough to be living out this present colossal chapter in Lions wonderful history.

As others scoff at the word ‘fortunate’ and ask: “Is he mad? Fortunate to be playing Midlands League 4 and 5 rugby?!” …well, it’s only when you go down to these levels that you get to sort your ship out properly, put your stamp on things and have everything running spick-and-span… and it most certainly is. Egotism aside, I can happily report that all things are running very smoothly at Webb Ellis Road currently, for the short and happily long term futures of this great club. The base of Lions pyramid is now very much built on solid foundations, its future very sustainable and extremely bright.

Lions 1st XV have played 30 games this season losing just one. They are Warwickshire Shield winners, successive Midlands Vase holders, unbeaten in two league seasons, Club of the Year 2014 in Rugby’s Sports Awards, three time winners of BBC’s Ruck and Maul Team of the Month, we have been to Twickenham, the BT Sports Studio, radio interviews attended and film crews have made a historical film about Lions charting our recent success and training methods to be shown in Rugby World Cup hosting cities.

Sunny Dhindsa in Lions' 45-13 win

Sunny Dhindsa in Lions' 45-13 win

In just one season of renaissance, from having nothing, Lions created a second wonderful band of men, more affectionately known as the Development XV. They are County Champions and have been promoted undefeated in their league.

We have the thriving Lionesses, that are an integral feature of our club’s outlook who themselves enjoyed a good national cup run. Our Vets, The Tailenders are Kings of Europe and next year there will be a Third XV taking the field each week, such is the drive and ambition at a very vibrant Webb Ellis Road.

Add to this the junior section of the club is once again thriving also, numbers on the up all the time, then suddenly life is not so bad.

If you catch your breath from taking in all the above and consider that there is currently an air of disappointment surrounding the Northallerton regret, then folks, I should not let it bother you for too much longer, the club is in wonderful hands and great things are coming this way in the future, of that I have no doubt.

Tom Kilburn on the charge

Tom Kilburn on the charge

And if it does still torment you somewhat, as it does me, then take pleasure in the horrible phrase that some imbecile once coined, “You learn more in defeat than in victory” … well, I think we’ll be all right.

Enough strutting, however, we did still have to see to the final league game at the weekend. It was in no way a spectacle and we were a long way short of our best. That said we scored 45 points against a side who, as every week, were playing their ‘cup final’ hell bent on a crack at Lions. Amplified by an official intent on bestowing Welsh every conceivable penalty in the book, this was no bad result; some beauties scored amidst the dross, notably full back Jamie Mapletoft’s 90m try… if the pitch was that long.

For the first 28 of Lions 30 outings, a precise and well-oiled machine has been in operation, only in the last two showings has the weird and wonderful, or not so crept in. If we were charitable in handing Northallerton three of their four scores, two by way of interceptions; we were feeling super benevolent in rewarding Welsh with an interception in the first half. This was followed up by an audaciously ludicrous crossfield kick from the rotund travelling ten that landed straight in the hands of their swift winger, who happily fielded the scandalously speculative punt and proceeded to run it in from half way much to the dissatisfaction of the kickers’ pack that then eyeballed him under the posts. I won’t be doing it again in a hurry… well, not for the next four months at least!

Next up, Lions can happily look forward to celebrating our on and off field successes at the AGM and Club dinner next month. Before then, I would once again like to thank everyone involved at Lions for a wonderful chapter. I for one cannot wait to do it all again next season.