Third overall after club’s best performance in league
The Rugby & Northampton AC senior team travelled to Stoke on Saturday for the final match of the season expecting a tough match. They were one of four clubs who could win the league and were also one of four clubs who could be relegated.
The week started badly with the news that top sprinter Emma Wilshire was seriously ill in hospital in Portugal, whilst later in the week a number of injuries to hurdlers further depleted the team, so instead of having a team capable of winning the match there a number of weak events.
In the event it proved to be another close match with three clubs being separated by just three points, with R&N taking 4th place on the day and finishing a creditable third overall.
This was probably the best league performance by the club in this league and reflects both improving standards and a greater depth of talent in most events. This ensures a third consecutive season in the top flight and with a lot of athletes still improving next season should be even stronger.
On the day the club dug deep faced with both injuries and holidays and used athletes aged from 15 to over 65 to ensure the best possible performance.
From the start of the meeting it was clear that Birchfield had brought a strong team and were looking to retain their title whilst after a slow start Notts were also very strong and looking to retain their place in the top flight, were BRAT were short of their best team and struggled all day.
This left Wolves, Stoke & R&N to fight for the mid-table positions and they continually swapped places as the afternoon went on. Once again the results of the 4 x 400 relay and the final field event, the discus, were critical and affected the final result.
In such a strong fixture A string victories were hard to come by and the club secured just one from the peerless Ellena Ruddock in the 100m, which was also a double with Sophie Riley winning the B race, one of only four B string victories. For both men and ladies there were a string of fine second places that kept the club in contention all day.
In the Men’s team these came through Craig Murch (Hammer & Shot), Ross Allen (400m), Jacob Allen (1500m), Rob Gardner (Steeplechase), Charlie Barker (High Jump), John Moreland (Discus) and Kevin Murch (Javelin), whilst for the Ladies it was Ellie Broome (Long Jump), Sophie Riley (200m), Rosanna Andrews (3000m), Megan Exley (Javelin) & the 4x100m relay. The other B string victories came from Chris Lamb in the steeplechase plus John Moreland in the Shot and Craig Murch in the Discus, such that once again the throws proved the foundation of the teams success. John along with Angela Copson will be now be heading to Turkey for the European Masters Championships where both hope to claim medals
There was also vital 3rd places for team stalwarts Ian Gidley (Pole Vault), Clinton Osaba-George (100m), Jacob Allen (800m), George Goodwin (3000m), Mel Wood (800m), Emily Waugh (1500) in hard fought races.
In addition to this there were also a string of personal bests for younger members of the team, Lucy Cousins (Hammer), Tia Clues (Javelin), Natalie Goddard (400m) & Megan Exley (Triple Jump).
At the end of the day Birchfield’s strength was decisive and they were champions but in the closest league which anybody can remember there was less than 150 points between first and last team across four matches, so R&N know that if they consistently field their best team in each match and improve in some key areas they are capable of winning this league in the future.
Thanks to all coaches, officials and supporters who have travelled with the team this year and best of luck to the YDL team in their National Finals at the start of September.