Round 20 West Country Wills Preview: Chinnor vs Taunton Titans

Article published:
February 21, 2024

Every week seems to bring an upset or two in National League One. This weekend the biggest shock must be the defeat of league leaders Chinnor, 22-17, at the hands of Blackheath, a result which must leave the South-East Londoners feeling they have now put some distance between themselves and the relegation spots. Chinnor are meanwhile joined on 77 points at the top of the table by neighbours Rams who enjoyed a 33-12 win over Leicester Lions. Lions – and Bishop’s Stortford who beat Sedgley Park away 14-22 – are on 35 points, two above Cinderford(beaten 24-3 in Devon by Plymouth Albion) and three above Taunton.


Titans returned to bottom spot, losing 38-14 at Rosslyn Park, though observers from the home side were quick to credit a fine performance by their team against a strong Taunton XV. Elsewhere, Richmond’s home win by 31-19 over Sale FC means that the Cheshire side remain within reach of the bottom two and third-placed Birmingham Moseley triumphed 32-28 against Darlington Mowden Park.


A second consecutive weekend on the road is not ideal, perhaps, for Titans especially when it means a visit to league leaders, Chinnor. However, Tony Yapp and his coaching team will consider that it is something of a free shot given that it is top versus bottom.


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 with whom he is fresh from an impressive showing in the Premiership Cup semi-final against Leicester.


Tom Varndell who is second in the all-time Premiership individual try scoring list 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 Titans last visited Chinnor’s Kingsey Road home in February 2023, the Somerset county town team took five league points with a 28-50 victory with tries from Alex Spurdle, Alex Rodd, Sam Prior (2) and Jay Toogood and a brace for Mani Feyi-Waboso who, a year on from that fixture, is involved on Saturday in the Calcutta Cup for England. In the most recent clash between the teams at the start of November at Veritas Park Chinnor racked up a half-century of points which Titans were unable to live with, despite tries from Noah Fenton, Greg Kitson and Ratu Vakalutukali.


Warriors meanwhile, fresh from a sizzling away victory at Chew Valley, 17-48, have opened up a nine point lead at the top of Counties Tribute Two Somerset with six games to play. Their next game is at Veritas Park against Wells on 2ndMarch.


Entrance to Chinnor RFC at Kingsey Road in Thame is £14.00 per adult for ground entry whilst Under18s enjoy free entry. A two-course meal is available before the game in the Members’ Bar for £29.50 which includes the match ticket. Contact Vicky Clarkeon for information or book via the Chinnor RFC website. Kick-off is at 3.00pm.

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Article published by:

Richard Kitzinger


Rugby fan and Taunton resident, Richard loves watching Titans and creates written content for the rugby club.