Rugby St Andrews promoted as champions and awarded Rugby & District’s Carling Cup
More than 100 players and guests packed Saints’ clubhouse for their Annual Dinner and to celebrate a year that saw them promoted as league champions and win the Carling Cup, awarded to the most successful of the nine constituent clubs, which comprise Rugby and District.
With a 75% win record Saints scored the most points (706) and conceded the fewest (423) to make this their best season since 2010/11.
Significantly, this season, the first team has been built round the core of players who have come through the clubs Mini and Junior ranks.
Of the 39 players who pulled on a first team shirt almost 80% were ‘home grown’ and on a number of occasions, the starting 15 were all ex Juniors, including four who were playing U18 Colts rugby the previous year.
Having struggled to raise a regular team last season, a resurgent second team narrowly missed out on promotion with some strong performances after Christmas.
Boosted by a number of returning prodigals and ex first team players there was an experienced spine to the team which helped to develop the younger players. The comprehensive away win that ended Southam’s unbeaten record was particularly memorable.
Alan Earle, the Charlie Bentley Clubman of the year, and Mick Cray received the volunteer awards for their contributions over many seasons. The coveted Players’ Player award went to inspirational first team skipper Grant Taylor. Having suffered injuries that would have ended the careers of less determined players, he regularly clocks up more than 20 tackles per game and will lead the side again next year.
The Coach’s Player was ever-present Dave Rudd, who returned to the club after a spell at Kenilworth to regain his scrum half position and become the consistent link between forwards and backs.
Tom Oglethorpe was deemed to be the Most Improved Player. Rock steady at full back he was also the major catalyst for much of Saints’ counter attacking ability.
Coach Craig Jones was the Supporters’ choice, having brought the club from the brink of relegation three years ago he has moulded a side that is sufficiently confident in their ability to play a vibrant attacking game and still boast the meanest defence in the league.
The irrepressible Mark Hughes and Jason Reynolds won the second team awards.
The Colts Player’s Player was Brandon Aitchison, Most Improved was Joe Bradley and the Coaches award was shared between George Bowers and Max Carlton.
Saints’ Thursday evening touch rugby league is now back in full swing after a brief break while the players enjoyed a much deserved R&R ‘tour’ to Bulgaria, that well known hotbed of rugby football.
Anyone wishing to stretch their legs and maintain a modicum of fitness is welcome to join in.
Games start at 7pm. Players must be over 14.