SQUASH: Rugby Stags promoted to highest possible amateur league

Mitch Bates, Nick Englert, Rodney Hallam, Simon Millward (captain), Scott Bates at the last game of the season when Rugby beat Loughborough Students 20-1, to clinch promotion
Mitch Bates, Nick Englert, Rodney Hallam, Simon Millward (captain), Scott Bates at the last game of the season when Rugby beat Loughborough Students 20-1, to clinch promotion

Season dedicated to much-loved member who died earlier this year

Rugby Stags Squash 1st team have enjoyed another very successful season.

Cup team, Roger Moore (over 50s), Rodney Hallam (over 35s), Simon Millward (cup captain and any age category)

Cup team, Roger Moore (over 50s), Rodney Hallam (over 35s), Simon Millward (cup captain and any age category)

Having looked firm favourites to win the Leicestershire County league at Christmas, injuries to key players eventually cost Rugby the title.

Nevertheless, a thoroughly deserved runners-up position was still enough to gain automatic promotion to the highest possible league that Rugby, an amateur team, can compete in.

The season featured some memorable victories – including thrashing rivals Hinkley (20-1), beating Loughborough away (20-1) and recording the only 20-0 whitewash against Nuneaton.

The top of the table clash that eventually decided the title, involved an exhilarating game between Rugby and Leicester.

Rugby travelled to Leicester without Scott Bates who had been brought into the Rugby team to add strength from Northamptonshire.

Four very close matches involving victories for Roger Moore and Mitch Bates, were cancelled out as Leicester came from 2-0 down to tie the match at 2-2.

This set the stage for Rugby’s captain, Simon Millward and the highest England squash level ranked player in the league, Matt Ysart, in what would eventually be a title changing match.

Millward gained an early advantage and led 2-0, but the quality of Ysart shone through. Millward failed to capitalise on 6 match points and lost 3-2 (9-6, 9-5, 2-9, 2-9, 9-10).

For the first time this season, Rugby were also entered into the mixed age County Cup. A very successful run to the semi-finals placed Rugby as favourites to win the cup. Roger Moore (over 50s) had a very closely fought battle with Mick Blasdale of Leicester, but was just beaten.

Millward levelled the scores in the any age category. A place in the final was up for grabs for whichever team could win the over 35s category.

Whilst Rod Hallam fought valiantly, recently crowned county champion, Ollie Wood sent Leicester into the finals.

Rugby Stags are very grateful to Rugby School Sports Centre for allowing the use of the very well maintained courts, and the team would also like to thank notable performances throughout the season from squad members Barrie Mclelland, Babar Shahzada and John Hithersay.

Congratulations also to four of the Rugby squad members who finished in the top 20 ranked players of the league at the end of the season Millward (2nd), Englert (6th), McLelland (13th) and M. Bates (17th).

Rugby will look forward to the challenges that await them next season when they will be competing against some professional players ranked within the top 100 in the world.

Strict diets and training regimes over the summer periods are planned in anticipation for some very hard matches when the season begins in September.

The Rugby Squash Team would like to dedicate their successes this season to Steve Suggett, a much loved member of the club, who very sadly passed away earlier this year.