Sevenoaks RFC are delighted to announce the appointment of centre Nigel Gumbleton as 1st XV captain for the 2019/20 season. Gumbleton, who takes over from Stuart Coleman, joined Sevenoaks RFC at the start of the 2017/18 season and held the position of vice-captain last season.
A Welshman, born and raised in Cardiff, Gumbleton played his junior rugby at Llanishen RFC and represented Cardiff Schools and Cardiff Blues whilst at school. He then moved to Reading University, where he studied for four years and also playing for the University team as well as representing Redingensians Rams in National 3 South West, narrowly losing out to Old Elthamians in the Nat 3 play off. It was during this time that Gumbleton also captained Berkshire Under 20s in the County Championships, as well as representing the senior side. He moved back to Cardiff for a while, where he represented Llanishen RFC again, before moving to Sevenoaks to be with his girlfriend Olivia, joining the Oaks in 2017.
‘I’m really honoured and excited to be named captain’ said Gumbleton. ‘Although I’ve only been at the Club for a relatively short time, it feels like home and I’ve loved every moment of being involved on and off the pitch. I’m under no illusion as to the importance of the role and I hope to do the position justice over the forthcoming season. It’s going to be a huge challenge, but we have a brilliant ethos here at the Club and I am surrounded by good people – the coaching staff, the committee, the medical team, supporters and of course the playing group.’
The new captain continued ‘I’d also like to pay tribute to my predecessor Stuart, who has been a hugely inspirational figure at the Club. Stuart made me feel very welcome when I first arrived at the Club – it’s something I’ll remember and I hope to continue his excellent work.’
Head Coach Adam Bowman is clearly delighted that Gumbleton has taken on the role, saying ‘When looking for a captain, you want someone who is going to lead by example and set the standards. Nigel has that in spades. He is consistently one of our top performers on the pitch and led the team well last year when Stuart was injured. The way he has integrated into the group off the field has also been superb. To have a player of his ability and character is a real feather in the cap for the Club and squad. I am sure that he will bring his own style to the role – he’s very much his own man which is an important quality to have as a captain.’
To support Gumbleton, Bowman has named the popular Josh Pettet as vice-captain. Pettet, who returned to play for Oaks at the start of 2017/18, has been one of the Club’s standout Academy products, having represented England at age group level as well as playing for Newcastle Falcons Academy whilst at University in Northumbria. Adept in the second row as well as the back row, Pettet has turned in some outstanding performance for the Oaks since his return.
On his appointment, he said ‘Having gone through the junior age groups, it’s special to have been given a leadership role at Oaks. Before I returned, I sat down with Adam and he laid out his vision for the Squad and how we would progress, citing National 3 rugby as the target. To have achieved that last season is really special, but we are determined not to be there to make up the numbers. We have some excellent players in the squad and I just hope I can contribute positively throughout the season, supporting Nigel and the coaching staff. I can’t wait to get going!’
And Gumbleton, was equally delighted with the appointment of Pettet as his vice-captain, saying ‘First and foremost, Josh is a top bloke, we get on really well which is the most important thing. We share the same philosophy of training and playing hard, but ensuring the social element and traditions of the Club are upheld. I know that I will be able to rely on Josh to set the standards in training and on match day – no doubt in the coming weeks and in our pre-season games we will work out our style and fine-tune ways of working, but I think with Josh being in the pack and myself being out in the backs, it should work quite nicely.
He continued, ‘We are also lucky that we have a load of leaders in the side, with the likes of DP (Dan Power), (Sean) Derrick, (Matt) McRae, Holmesy (Matt Holmes), Charlie (Naismith), Hendo (John Henley), (Jack) Curnow and Thorney (Josh Thorneycroft) to name a few - and there’s a whole load more. Throughout the season those guys will need to step up and I know that I will be able to rely on them. It’s going to be a huge challenge, but one that we are relishing.’