The second weekend of fixtures in National League One saw three sides maintain the perfect record of two wins with a four-try bonus point in each. Reading-based Rams who narrowly missed out on promotion last season sit at the top of the table after winning their Thames Valley derby with Chinnor but are equal on points with newly promoted Sedgeley Park who were big away winners at Birmingham Molesey by 21-44. The third side with a perfect 10is Rosslyn Park who prevailed by 24-31 in the South-West London derby at the home of their neighbours Richmond, today’s visitors to Veritas Park.
Elsewhere, Bishop’s Stortford registered an away win at Blackheath by 27-31. New boys Leicester Lions were the division’s lowest scorers, yet they achieved a losing bonus point in the Forest of Dean in losing23-17 to Cinderford. Sale FC sit bottom after a home defeat at the hands of Darlington Mowden Park. Taunton Titans staged a second consecutive late comeback and Frankie Dart’s last-gasp try secured a four-try bonus point but Plymouth Albion had already registered the day’s highest score to win the South-West derby 54-29.
This means that both Titans and Richmond are winless and have three competition points as they face up in Somerset’s county town. Richmond FC, founding members of the Rugby Football Union, featured in the very first club rugby match – against Blackheath FC who were at Veritas Park only a fortnight ago. They have played a couple of seasons at the top table of English rugby, just before the millennium, but then fell into administration and had to begin again at the bottom of the league rugby structure. Over the course of twenty years they worked their way back through the amateur ranks and have spent six of the last seven seasons in the Championship from which they suffered relegation last season.
Based once more at the Athletic Ground in Richmond, they boast an impressive roll of honour with Jeff Probyn, Ben Clarke and Dan Luger just a few of the many England Test players to have worn the famous yellow, red and black shirt. The Quinnell brothers, Craig and Scott, legendary Argentine scrum-half Agustin Pichot and South African powerhouse Bobby Skinstad are amongst the international players to have represented Richmond FC.
Now coached by Rob Powell, a Yorkshireman whose previous coaching experience includes London Broncos and the Lebanese international rugby league teams, Richmond FC. They boast a Smith and Jones half back pairing with Luc Jones earning plenty of plaudits at scrum half and Tom Smith the principal goal kicker outside him.
There have been four previous fixtures between the two clubs this century. The first was won by Titans at the Athletic Ground with a try at the death by number 8 Nick Burnett. The other three were all won by Richmond. Interestingly, across the quartet of games, all the Taunton penalty goals and conversions were kicked by current members of the Taunton coaching team, Gary Kingdom and Tony Yapp.
This Saturday the Taunton Warriors, fresh from a 36-7 win over Minehead Barbarians are on the road at Yatton.
The Match Sponsor this weekend is Somerset County Cars Toyota who have this week completed the 3 peaks challenge in aid of the 'Not Forgotten'. Taunton Rugby Clubs Nick Mason has been involved in the challenge and there will be buckets to donate to this worthy charity.
Kick-off 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. It’s utter madness not to book in for the unparalleled two-course pre-match carvery, the envy of the National League and still an absolute bargain at just £20 per head. To book please contact the club office on 01823 336363. For those with more modest appetites, there will be delicious hot pasties and coffees from the Proper Cornish pasty van and there will be three bars open.
With thanks to Richard Walford for providing information about previous encounters.
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.