The 6ft 5 inch towering frame of Charlie Naismith has probably been one of the most recognisable and iconic sights for Oaks players and supporters over the past few years. Whilst a comforting image for those in blue and gold, no doubt it has caused much angst for all opposition, particularly those players that have had the formidable task of having to pack down against the man mountain.
Last weekend saw Naismith win his 100th cap in convincing fashion as Oaks beat Chobham 40-0 to kick off their 2019 campaign in style and made him the third Oaks player this season to reach the 100 cap mark,
Beginning his 1st XV career with a 41-32 win against Dunstonians in September 2010, due to University commitments at Exeter over the next three years saw limited 1st XV appearances for the young prop.
Post his studies, Naismith returned to the Sevenoaks area and became a regular from the 2013/14 season. Since then, the former Tonbridge School boy has amassed nine tries and proved himself than more than just a force in the scrum, working his way around the park to become one of Oaks primary ball carriers in attack and a wall in defence. The advice is simple – don’t run at Charlie!
His reliability has been one of his key attributes admired by the coaching staff – if fit, Naismith is always available to play.
‘Charlie has been an integral part of the squad here at Oaks’ said Head Coach Adam Bowman. ‘When I first took over as Head Coach, Charlie didn’t play for the first season due to a knee injury, which was a huge loss for the side. But he still kept involved, coming down to support the guys on a Saturday and then started back the following pre-season. He had a load of experience before that and has been an ever present since he came back at the start of last season. Reliable, dependable and a good sounding board are three of Charlie’s attributes that I really cherish as a coach. We have a good relationship and with his previous knee injuries, Charlie’s work load needs to be managed, so it’s important that we have a good rapport. I must admit, there are times when we have a wry smile or chuckle with each other either at training, when Charlie has physio when we are doing fitness!’
A love for the game is clearly what has driven Naismith to his 100 games and is central to his desire to increase his appearances, with the centurion prop saying ‘Juggling work and rugby has its problems (he runs his own engineering company), but I see rugby as an integral part of my week.’
He continued ‘After my injury and season out, I really noticed a difference and a change in the Club ethos and that’s down to Adam and his coaching team and the Committee. It’s helped us get to our current position and it makes the training all the more worthwhile, when we are winning well on a Saturday.’
‘I’d also like to say a big thanks to my girlfriend Charlotte, who’s as committed to the Club as I am. She’s travelled all over the South East to support me and the team and it’s something I am very grateful for.’
‘Truly, the Club means a lot and I hope to continue playing as long as possible.’
Director of Rugby Roger McKerlie, a former front row forward for Oaks himself, sang the praises of Naismith in recognition of his 100th match, saying ‘As a Club, we pride ourselves on our youth section and nothing gives the Paddock Faithful more pleasure the long term contribution to the Club from one of our own.’
Roger continued ‘It is with immense joy that we salute Charlie. Hot on the heels of former Academy star Oliver Shirtcliff, Charlie joins an elite Club and I am sure everyone will join us in thanking him and wishing him well for a long future in Oaks colours. Equally at home demolishing pies and opposition front rows, Charlie is a mainstay of the squad and his power carrying, immoveable scrummaging and deft handling skills are major contributors to our current success. But Charlie has been around for some time now and has faithfully taken to the fields of the Clubs we hope are long since in our past. In an era where player turnover is rapid, Charlie was there a long time ago and was a significant part of the promotion winning team four seasons ago.’
The Director of Rugby continued his tribute by saying ‘It is hard to imagine an Oaks side without the big man in it and I hope that it is something we won’t see for quite some time. In fact, given his relative youth for a prop, who would bet against him being a 200 cap man?! I know that I am right in saying that Charlie is one of the Old School who play their rugby for fun and the love of the game. Aside from asking for 4XL shirts, Charlie has simply given to the Mighty Oaks! He is a top man, superb player and vital member of our Senior Squad and the Club as a whole and we all salute him. Congratulations from the whole Club Charlie!’
Congratulations indeed and thoroughly deserved – well done Charlie!