1stXV v Blackheath, Sat Jan 06, 14:15, Match Preview
Blackheath, the oldest open membership rugby union club in the world are our 1stXV's next opposition.
Founded in 1858 as an Old Boys club of Blackheath Proprietary School, they changed their constitution in 1862 to allow anyone to become a member thus becoming the first 'open' membership club in the world. To this day they are known as 'Club', a tradition that started when fixtures were played against the school, spectators cheered for 'School' or 'Club'...
In October 1863 Blackheath was a founder member of The Football Association which was formed with the intention to frame a code of laws under the one heading of "football". By December Blackheath had resigned from the FA due to the proposed laws removing much of what rugby clubs considered key to their sport.
At the beginning of 1871 a meeting attended by representatives from 22 clubs was held in London directly resulting in the founding of the Rugby Football Union (RFU). Blackheath is one of seven of the original twenty-two clubs to have survived to this day.
Blackheath initially played on the Heath, moving first to Richardson's Field before taking up permanent residence at the Rectory Field in 1883.
The first ever rugby union international match was played between England & Scotland in 1871 in Edinburgh, the England squad contained four Blackheath players, in 1881 the first international between England & Wales was played at Richardson's Field.
Blackheath have been ever present at level 3 (now National 1) since winning promotion from level 4 (then National 3 South) in season 2002/03 as champions. This season have a played 16 won 10 record to lie 5th in the table just 1 place behind Ampthill.
Our 1stXV drew 35-35 on the road at Old Albanians just before Christmas with a performance that was sublime and awful in equal measure. Having twice established a comfortable lead defensive lapses saw the hosts recover to secure a draw with the last kick of the game.
There are a number of changes to the 1stXV squad, the forwards see the return of Toby Trinder at Prop, Aleki Lutui to Hooker, Billy Johnson to Lock and Will Allman rotates to Flanker. The backs see Kevin Barrett at Scrum Half, Lawrence Rayner at Fly Half while Owain James returns at Wing. The bench sees a debut for dual registered from Wasps Hooker Gabriel Oghre while Ben Gulliver and Gavin Williams rotate with Karim Lynch returning from injury.
We offer our warmest welcome to our visitors and their travelling support.
Director of Rugby Mark Lavery comments "We have only been playing each other for a short time and this will be our sixth ever meeting. In our first season in National 1 three years ago Club won both occasions quiet comfortably but the last three games have been really tight affairs which could have gone either way.
Our season has been inconsistent but we are still in a great position in the league with all our long road trips completed and it's always nice to be back in front of our home support at Dillingham. It should be an absolute cracker and I don't think there will be much in it by the final whistle."
Blackheath's team is provisional, based on that which played before Christmas, check back for an update.