It seems that both Sevenoaks RFC and Tunbridge Wells RFC supporters have been well behaved in 2016 as good old St. Nick has answered their Xmas wish list, granting their respective players and supporters a fixture between the two sides 1st XV’s this Saturday at the Paddock, in what will be the last 'hit-out' before the close of the year.
Whilst Tunbridge Wells have undoubtedly held the bragging rights in recent times, the Oaks will have found memories of the Christmas fixture between these sides, having beaten their rivals and friends with a last minute Kelly Anderson try in 2014. ‘The Wells’ currently sit third, having a good start to the first chapter of the season, which saw them beat Oaks 10-3 at St Marks in September. Although they lost their unbeaten record which stretched to an incredible forty matches, recent weeks have seen the men from St. Marks pick up five points in matches against Brighton, Gosport & Fareham and Dover. Oaks have also acquitted themselves well so far, sitting in a tight mid-table, having won seven matches and lost six.
For Director of Rugby Roger McKerlie, the half-term report reads well. ‘The work that everyone across senior rugby has put in has been hugely impressive and that work is paying real dividends’ says Roger. ‘I can’t speak highly enough of the effort that the players have put in so far. It’s easy to forget but the guys have been going for 6 months already, having started pre-season in July. There’s been the odd week off, but I am in awe of the commitment from the players, medical department and management team who have been training and playing 3 times a week.’
Roger continues ‘I’d also like to place on record the thanks from all of the aforementioned to their families, wives, girlfriends, parents and friends who have supported the squad so far this season. It’s a big commitment to train and play week in, week out and to have the support from those close to you makes a big difference.’
Before looking ahead to the match this weekend, Roger believes that the squad are in good health to kick-on in the second stanza of the season. ‘One of the main aims of this season, and challenges the committee put to Adam Bowman and his team, was to create a ‘One Squad’ environment with the ethos. It’s a continuous approach, so I’m not going to say ‘we’ve cracked it’, but so far, the signs are good. We have been regularly getting 35-40 to training which creates a competitive environment across the board. Of course there have been injuries, as no doubt all our contemporaries have had, but what has been pleasing is that we have been able to cope with this through the depth of the squad and we have been able to unearth some great talent who have slotted in to the system seamlessly.’
‘Our 3's remain unbeaten so far, which is fantastic and I like to think that for the first time in a long time we have been able to provide Pip and James with quality players rather than take them away.’
And so this weekend will once again see Oaks lock horns with their old rivals and friends from down the road. ‘Playing Tunbridge Wells is always a special occasion, but with it being the ‘Christmas fixture’, it just adds something extra. It would be great to get as many supporters down to cheer on the guys – the quality of rugby this season has been superb and knowing that Tunbridge Wells like to play a bit, those who come down to watch should be in for a real treat. We’ve been busy in the background organising a few extra areas for supporters to get a drink and food outside so they’ll be plenty of opportunity to get into the Xmas spirit!’
Sevenoaks 1st XV take on Tunbridge Wells 1st XV this weekend at the Paddock, with Kick Off at 2pm. The 2nd XV are also at the Paddock against Old Alleynians with KO also at 2pm, whilst the 3s travel to Cranbrook.