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Season Review 2021/22

Well that was the season that was!

I’d like to welcome you all to our annual awards dinner. It’s not quite the format we’ve been used to previously and we were unable to plan something more formal in advance. We were also keen to keep costs down if we could.

I hope you enjoy the evening and thank you for coming along. We will review what to do for our awards night over the season and would welcome your feedback. Before we announce our winners, I’d like to spend a few minutes to review the past season. 

There are a number of people who are unable to be here tonight who’ve made a significant contribution to the club over the years. I’d especially like to mention Paul Stickler who’s retired as men’s head coach. The amount of work he put it will be much missed. Sadly, since we were last able to get together for an awards night, we have also lost a stalwart on the sidelines in Ron Cloake. He sadly passed away after a short illness last year, and Mike Herman, who came with the club to Cheltenham with GCHQ in the 1950s. It’s not often we have someone who has an obituary in the Times.

Therefore, I’d like you to raise your glasses and toast our absent friends.

On the field, the return to rugby post COVID brought both challenges, success and new beginnings. The men’s 1stXV had a memorable season, securing a league title win with a game to spare with a fantastic thumping of Stroud. Given the historic status of Stroud, to so comprehensively beat them represented a fantastic achievement. Ollie Wilton scored an extraordinary number of tries from number 8, including a most satisfying one against Norton North. He scored 31 tries for 155 points in matches, an extraordinary performance. Matt Baker topped the appearance chart, playing all but one game and captain Ross Ruck played his 100th league game for the club. I’m also delighted to confirm that two 1stXV players have reached 50 appearances – well done Isaac Lewis and Will Markey. 

The 2ndXV had a turbulent season, with us sadly being unable to field a complete Service 15 most weeks. Thanks to the heroic efforts of Ash and Arron, we were able to combine players with Westbury, Smiths, Sarries (and probably others I’ve forgotten) to get players regular games. Sadly, this wasn’t always at home, but at least games were possible. At least for the 1sts, 36 different players pull a shirt on over the season and it would be fantastic to see at least most of them back next season. 

The Ladies XV faced similar challenges to the 2nds, with playing numbers fluctuating weekly both for us and opposition teams and injuries and COVID really hurting us. Not helped by the distances needing to travel for some games. I’d like to especially recognise the efforts of Dolly and Amber in getting games rearranged and teams on the park and despite the challenges we played all available league games and at times played some really good rugby, with the Greyhounds match demonstrating our potential. I’d also like to thank those ‘guests’ who came along to help make up teams for us, a couple of whom are here tonight!

The Sharks had a great season and it was a great pleasure and honour to attend their awards event and help hand out medals and awards. It’s a real testament to Lee and all those that help run the Sharks to see the great progress they’ve made over the past few seasons. Next season should see both our first girls team and the U15s boy side entering a league for the first time. I look forward to seeing their progress and look forward to both the boys and girls playing in the adult teams in a few years. 

Finally, I must make a mention of the new section to the club, Walking Rugby. This has been great to get off the ground and attendance has been great, with the games really enjoyable. For an old broken player like me, it’s been great to play some rugby again. It’s also been good to see some other ex-players coming along and taking part. Well done Cam for your efforts in getting this going.    

I’d like to finish this round up with a plea, in order to keep the club going and ideally move it forward, we are in urgent need of additional volunteers. At present, too few people are trying to do too much. We can tailor roles to suit interests and skill sets, but we are especially in need of a club treasurer and support regarding sponsorship and partners. If you would be interested in helping the club and giving back to the game, please let me know.

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