Well here it is, the potential for a victory candle to be placed on Danny Vaughan’s Sevenoaks Rugby Club cake. After an illustrious playing career at Blackheath and an equally successful seven seasons coaching at Canterbury, Danny joined the Oaks as Head Coach when we were at a particularly low ebb. He has stuck with us through thick and thin for five seasons now, and has been instrumental in turning round our fortunes to the point where we stand on the threshold of promotion back to Level 6 with today’s play off match against the London 2 South West (L2SW) runners up London Cornish. If this is achieved, Danny will have earned that sip of bubbly more than anyone. 

However we have extremely doughty opponents to overcome before any celebrations can be considered. It is a first time Knole Paddock welcome to all involved with London Cornish, be they players, officers, supporters or even curious tourists from the Black and White flag county who might be visiting the Garden of England. We pride ourselves on our hospitality so all today’s visitors will be made to feel at ease;  a few pints of Larkins or Westerham ales, brewed in the hop county will certainly help! We aim to reciprocate the friendship shown to us when we visited West London for an Intermediate Cup match in 2009.

Life began for Cornish Exiles in 1962. Other major events that year included the professional debut of the Rolling Stones, the premier of Dr No the first James Bond film and of course the Cuban Missile crisis;  tough to compete against those, but still a momentous year in history for our visitors.

Sporting the black and gold rugby colours of Cornwall County Rugby Union, the club soon changed its name to London Cornish and pitched camp on Putney Common. They immediately invaded The Telegraph Inn on Putney Heath and have used that establishment as their HQ, drinking parlour and place of rest ever since. Cornish have made steady progress in the leagues since starting out at Level 11 and they are proud to note that all four of their sides are now playing at the highest level any of them have ever achieved.  This time last year they were also in this same play off match, losing 12-29 to Medway, so they will be looking to go one better today.

This match is a betting man’s nightmare. On the one hand Oaks have already defeated the Champions and third placed side in L2SW and have home advantage. On the other hand Cornish have won 14 of their last 15 L2SW games and their only league defeat on the road was on their first away day of the season. Then again look at each of our records:

Oaks      Won 18,  Lost 4, Bonus Points 16, For 762, Against 279 and Total points 88

Cornish  Won 18, Lost 4, Bonus Points 13, For 666, Against 349 and Total points 85

Oaks also have the incentive of avenging the 22-27 defeat in that Intermediate Cup meeting mentioned earlier. You can make a score prediction – I’m not going to!

The prize for today’s winners is a move up to play some semi professional outfits, a challenge no doubt that either club would relish.  Both teams anticipate a tough sporting contest, and we also expect to finish with respect and friendship towards our opponents.  

Howard Pearl