It was a hell of a start, two from two - and then Rosslyn Park were very good.” Taunton’s popular prop, Isaac Dalton, is reflecting on the start to the National League One campaign. Away victories at Leeds and Darlington were followed by a tough tie against the Londoners.
Dalton hasn’t lost his knack for finding his way across the whitewash though. Having posted 15 tries in the promotion-winning season of 2019/20, he’s already made his mark in the higher division. His take on his free-scoring exploits is typically modest, however. “I can’t complain but it’s nice to see Charlie Wright chipping in with some tries as well,” he says, quick to praise his fellow Honiton man.
A builder and carpenter by trade, Isaac is reluctant to give up any trade secrets when it comes to explaining how and why he scores so many tries. He merely chuckles and claims it’s a matter of “right place at the right time” though, of course, there is more to it than that. Even if Dalton attributes it to the coaches’ strategies and the hard work of his fellow forwards putting him in that right place, nobody scores so often without having an innate ability to sense the moment. Small wonder then that Club President Dick Macey has dubbed him “Sniffer” for his ability to smell the try-scoring opportunity.
“It came as a massive surprise to be named National League 2 Player of the Season,” says Isaac, going on to describe his tally of 15 tries as “mad. Nick Mason phoned me up before I’d seen the announcement and I thought he was having me on but it’s something I’m very proud of.” Staying true to the Front Row Union, the furthest distance he ran one of those scores in from varies according to how many drinks he’s had with top estimates coming in at “from outside the 22 following a few beers. Nothing wrong with a few white lies!”
One of the key experiences in his rugby-playing development were the couple of months he spent at Carterton in New Zealand. The kiwi club with whom Taunton has well-established links had a need of props and he and Connor Baker headed out there. Playing a different brand of rugby in the Southern Hemisphere added several dimensions to his game and set the former Exmouth tighthead on the course to the accolades he has gained since returning.
There was never any doubting his return to Taunton though. Dalton is quick to extol his love of all aspects of the club from the fans to his team-mates. “It’s definitely the best club I’ve been at and I want to be involved for a long while yet.” Being a builder, it can be tough heading onto the training pitch in cold, wet weather after a long day on the tools but there is no let up when he has half an hour of scrummaging work to do. He calls it a labour of love.
Fans concerned by Isaac’s absence from the squad for the away trip to Bishop’s Stortford will be relieved to learn that there was nothing sinister – he had the honour of being best man at a friend’s wedding. Some team-mates, under the impression that the front row is a man of few words, will be surprised to learn that his speech went down very well despite it being the thing he was “most nervous about”. He’s keen to continue his push for Taunton finishing at the top half of the league table and his personal bid for “National One Player of the Year, why not?”
Richard Kitzinger is writing in our match day programmes as well as on the Taunton RFC website. Richard is a Will Writer and all club members are entitled to a discount on Lasting Powers of Attorney with him. Call him on 07504 991893.