Action in National League One resumes this Saturday following a two-week break. It will have given the fourteen teams a chance not only to recharge batteries but to take stock of a set of results last time out which were startling in certain quarters with the top three all losing. Foremost amongst those was the result from the East Midlands where Leicester Lions recorded only their second win of the campaign – and did so by defeating Rams26-24. Rams had until then taken the maximum five points from every match so this really was a turn up for the books. Plymouth Albion, who had been in second place, travelled to the Forest of Dean where they were beaten 20-12 by Cinderford and third placed Blackheath went to the Thames Valley and were given a 53-8 hiding by Chinnor, this Saturday’s visitors to Veritas Park.
Taunton Titans remain in 12th spot but are back in touch with the pack having put in a performance for the ages to quash Rosslyn Park. It was the Titans’ first league victory of the season and was as emphatic as it could be, by 40 points to 17 and earning a four try bonus point in the process. There were plenty of points in the northeast where Darlington Mowden Park went down by just one to visitors Birmingham Moseley 27-28 and there was another high-scoring affair between Bishop’s Stortford and Sedgley Park Tigers where the away team also prevailed, 33-45. Finally, in the Mancunian suburbs, Sale FC continued their surprisingly slow start to the season by losing 15-24 to Richmond.
By the end of this next block of seven fixtures the league season will be past the halfway stage and Titans will have met all of their opponents at least once. This week’s guests in Somerset are Chinnor who now lie in second place in the table with five wins from their seven games thus far. They will provide a stern test for Tony Yapp’s men but the Titans have every reason to believe in themselves having ignited their season last time out.
A relatively young rugby club, formed only in 1962, Chinnor has been playing in National League One since 2018 after gaining promotion via a play-off against the runners-up from the North Division of National Two. Last season they ended up three spots above the Titans in eighth place in the table.
Chinnor’s Director of Rugby, Nick Easter, played at the highest level of English rugby, most notably with Harlequins for whom he made 281 appearances. He was also capped 54 times in the back row by England before beginning a coaching career as Defence Coach at Newcastle Falcons. The Head Coach meanwhile is Craig Hampson, the former Wasps scrum-half combining his coaching duties at Chinnor with representing leading Championship side, Ealing Trailfinders.
Tom Varndell who was only recently surpassed at the top of the all-time Premiership individual try scoring list by Chris Ashton began his rugby career at Chinnor’s Kingsey Road ground in the nearby town of Thame before going on to represent Leicester, Bristol, Wasps and England. Other Chinnor alumni who have progressed to the top tier include Dave Seymour (Saracens and Sale) and Tom Johnson(Exeter Chiefs and England).
When the two teams last met at Chinnor’s Kingsey Road home in February, Titans took five league points with a 28-50 victory with tries for Mani Feyi-Waboso (2), Alex Spurdle, Alex Rodd, Sam Prior (2) and Jay Toogood.
The Match Sponsor for this game is RDA Insulation who are also sponsors for a number of the Titans players. The Match Ball Sponsor is Civil Solutions who are long term supporters of Taunton RFC and again sponsor a number of players within the squad.
This is the Annual Armed forces day and those with a valid armed forces card or veterans card can gain free entry to the game.
This Saturday the Taunton Warriors, refreshed from a weekend off, are also at home, playing Chew Valley 2nd XV. Not to be out done by Titans whilst they were beating Rosslyn Park, they racked up over a hundred points on the adjacent pitch against St Bernadette’s Old Boys.
Kick-off for Titans vs Chinnor at Veritas Park is at 3pm. Entry is £15 for adults and free for Under-16s. Parking at Veritas Park on Hyde Lane costs £5. Booking is essential for the unparalleled two-course pre-match carvery, the envy of the National League and still, unbelievably, just £20 per head. To book please contact the club office on 01823 336363. There will also be delicious hot pasties and coffees from the Proper Cornish pasty van and there will be three bars open.
Taunton resident and rugby lover, Richard Kitzinger writes content for Taunton RFC’s club website and match-day programmes. His day job is writing Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney - he can be found at www.westcountrywills.co.uk or reached on 07504 991893.