A message from Sevenoaks RFC Head Coach Adam Bowman:
As another rugby year closes, I would like to start by thanking all of our members, committee, supporters, players, team leaders, support staff and coaches for your unwavering support throughout 2018. Before we look ahead to an exciting 2019, I look fondly back at 2018, a year in which we have continued to build on the foundations put in place and where we now stand second in two of the leagues we compete in.
The Senior Squad is in the strongest position that it has been since I began as Head Coach and that is due to the hard work of the committee, coaching staff and of course the players. I have been delighted with the progress we have made since I have been Head Coach, with the most pleasing thing being that we haven’t stood still and have constantly looked at how we can evolve and improve. Without doubt, the Committee have been the main catalyst in this and to have their full support and loyalty has enabled myself and the coaching staff to consistently strive to make things better and create an environment that players want to be part of. To them, I say a huge thanks from myself, the coaching and support staff and the players.
And for me, that is what I am proud of most – the culture that we have created. Our players give up a huge amount of their personal time – at training twice a week and even more so on match day, when perhaps they have to travel over two hours to a match. The environment that we create is critical. The players must feel that they want to be a part of Sevenoaks RFC and make that sacrifice – that’s even before they step out onto the pitch and put their bodies on the line. Seemingly, they do and the amount of work that they have put in this year is being shown on a Saturday afternoon, across all squads.
When they put their bodies on the line, we have an excellent medical team that puts them back together. Led by Harry Holder, Vicky and Ste have integrated seamlessly into the Senior set up and have worked incredibly hard to get our players out on the park each Saturday. It’s been a huge part of our early season success, as we have been able to pick a consistent team across the 1st, 2nd and 3rd XV’s. Whilst a lot of injuries are down to the luck of the draw, the hard work the medical team means we can put players back on the field as quickly and as safely as possible and it’s been a main catalyst in the early season success.
I know we have surprised a number of people with the 1st XV league position and perhaps we hit a number of sides ‘cold’ this year. It seems like an age away now but the start we had on that warm day in September against Thurrock really set the tone and their current league position shows what a good result it was. Whilst we were really disappointed to lose the next match against London Cornish, looking back it really benefitted us a group to remind ourselves that if we want to compete at the higher end of the league, then we needed to be on our game each and every Saturday. Next year will be tougher as we play each side for a second time.
Momentum is massive in sport and it can have both positive and negative effects. Negative if you are in a rut and losing, as we found at the start of last year when, despite getting off to a good start against Old Colfeians, we then started to get into a streak where results just weren’t going our way. I truly believe that a period like that makes you learn more as a group than when you are winning. I am proud of the players for the way that they applied themselves during that period and we are much the better for it. What is also important to remember is that our 2s, 3s and 4s were continually winning at that point, so whilst the 1st XV perhaps are in the ‘spotlight’ more often, we had a squad in place where the majority of the team were winning. The 2nd XV missed out again for the second year in a row by the narrowest of margins, whilst the Gents did what they do best and topped the league. The 3rd XV battled right to the death, and finished a credible third in a tough league and have had an up and down start to the league this year but will be looking to push on in the New Year, with a number of games re-arranged allowing them the opportunity to move up the league.
Keep an eye out for the Mighty Acorns as they start their charge towards the Evergreen Cup again this year. The team are packed full of talent with a few former recently retired 1st teamers like James Garcia and Alex Barber whilst also mixing more ‘experienced’ heads like Bill Parks, Rob Thurnell and mountain man Miles Hayward. The ‘One Club’ ethos was there for all to see in May, when both Senior Squad and Vets toured together – quite an eye opener for some of the more junior members of the Senior Squad! We plan to go again this coming year, with Berlin the next city to see the Mighty Oaks colours in action.
Clearly so much to look forward to. I will finish how I started – with a huge thank you to everyone who has supported the Senior Squad this year. Sevenoaks Rugby Football Club is an wonderful organisation to be a part of and that is down to each and every single member. I really look forward to seeing everyone in the New Year for what promises to be a special 2019.