Let’s shout it from the roof tops – Taunton Rugby Football Club has won promotion to National League Division One to play in the third tier of English national rugby next season having been declared Champions of National League Two (South) by the Rugby Football Union as they brought the final curtain down on a slightly shortened season by virtue of the coronavirus epidemic (writes Dick Macey).
This is such a proud moment for the nearly 150 year-old club. Founded in 1875, there has been a rugby club representing the county town since that time and although they have played some illustrious sides over the years it wasn’t until the creation of the league system in the 1990s that the real progress that was being made could be measured. Thus the steady build-up of support from the town and the development of the skill base of the playing squad has culminated in this wonderful moment in the club’s history – a time for unbridled celebration for the entire club, players, coaches, supporters, ground crew,administration and back-room staff, junior players and sponsors - all have played their part.
When the time comes to be free of the impact of the dreaded“lock-down” and we are all able to meet freely once more there will be a massive celebration to enjoy these moments in the limelight before the serious business of coping with rugby at the higher level becomes the focus. This correspondent wishes to raise his cap to salute the huge contribution made by Head Coach, Tony Yapp, and the forwards’ coach Chris Brown; they have quietly beavered away to create a very effective squad of players who, under the leadership of their skipper, Dan Lee, who leads very positively and purposefully from the front, have created an incredible team spirit and who is now rewarded with this promotion.
There have been some significant stand-out moments in a season full of highlights and satisfaction but none remains in the memory more than the victory of the Titans over arch-rivals, Tonbridge/Juddians, at the Towergate Stadium in January. This was the game which undoubtedly gave realisation to the players that they were creating something special in their season. T/Js were all-conquering league leaders at that time and were playing a steam-rolling type of rugby that seemed difficult to contain and the Titans stopped them dead in their tracks, 20-5, and suddenly the Taunton boys were 10feet tall, they all realised that they were something special and their confidence grew and grew from that moment. T/Js have been promoted alongside Taunton RFC but the Titans now know they can compete with the best.
addition to the Titans gaining promotion as Champions two further accolades have been acquired by this great squad of players. Gary Kingdom, the Titans' full back, known affectionately as "Donkey", has been named as the league's leading points scorer having racked up 230 points during the campaign. Even more significantly Isaac Dalton, the tight head prop known as "Sniffer" for his ability to pop up with the ball and make a dash for the line to touch down from a yard out, has been named as National League 2(South)Player of the Season. Sincere congratulations to them both.
There is now much to look forward to in the season ahead. Aside from away trips to pastures new such as Darlington, Leeds, The Wirral (Caldy RFC) and Sale FC,there will be games against famous names in rugby in the shape of Blackheath, Rosslyn Park, Plymouth Albion and old foes like Cinderford, Chinnor, Bishops Stortford,Cambridge and The Rams. It would be naive in the extreme to not recognise that Taunton RFC face a big step up butthe steady progress made over the recent years by Yappy and his crew will undoubtedly stand us in good stead as we move forward. However, that is all for the tomorrows. Let us first enjoy the todays.
Taunton RFC’s promotion is fantastic for the club but it is also great news for the town and for West Country rugby and it is to be hoped that we are all able to fully embrace the good will which will flow from it. WELL PLAYED TAUNTON!