1stXV v Esher, Sat Sep 15, 2018, 15:00, Match Preview
Ampthill welcome Esher to Dillingham Park this coming Saturday for the second National 1 home fixture of the season.
In 1923, four rugby enthusiasts met in a pub (where else!) and decided to form a rugby club. One of them, a Welshman insisted that the club colours should adopt his native Welsh club’s colours. Which is why Esher adopted the Black and Amber of Newport.
Looking for a pitch on which to play they found a friendly farmer’s field, which, when not being used for rugby, was used for grazing cattle! For changing rooms they used two bedrooms and a bathroom in a local pub, and thus Esher RFC were in business.
At the outbreak of the Second World War, Esher had moved to it’s present site and were fielding eight sides, but war disrupted activities and the pitches were ploughed up for food production.
After the war the club restarted and by the 1950s Esher were back on it’s re-sown pitch and, with a huge influx of players, ran as many as fifteen sides each Saturday.
During the past 30 years, Esher bought it’s 23 acre ground, built it’s 1200 seater stand, become the first club in London to erect floodlights and have hosted more and more representative matches, including an England trial, 2 Churchhill Cup matches; Russia vs Canada and USA vs Tonga as well as many England Ladies matches.
With the introduction of the league system, Esher were placed in London League One where it remained until promoted to the National Two in 1997/98.
In 2002 their(still quite new) club house was complemented by new top class fencing around the 1st XV pitch. The success in the growth of the Mini & Junior section put pressure on playing space and to meet this need the club finished developing two new pitches and a training area.
The arrival of Mike Schmid as the Director of Rugby in 2005 saw the 1st XV’s performances improve finishing 3rd in that year followed by winning National 2 in 2006/7 and gaining promotion to National 1. In 08/09 Esher were sitting a comfortable 5th from the bottom of the table, 25 points clear of the bottom 2 teams, and therefore safe from relegation. Midway through the season, the RFU introduced a new competition in the second tier of English rugby named the RFU Championship which is made up of 12 teams as a consequence the bottom five teams were relegated, including Esher.
In 2009/10, Esher won 29 of their 30 games in the new National 1, scoring 1400 points and conceding only 300 and were promoted to the Championship.
Finishing the 2010/11 season in 9th position, Esher found themselves in the bottom four and therefore the relegaton play-offs. After a great performance at Plymouth, the team secured their place in the Championship for the next season, with Birmingham & Solihull relegated.
Esher were relegated from the Championship to National 1 the following season where they have remained finishing 9th last season.
Currently 16th in National 1 with a played 2 won 0 record, last week they lost at home against Plymouth Albion 21-24 securing their first point in a narrow loss.
Ampthill’s poor defensive display at Chinnor last week saw them go down 38-33, despite having a chance to sneak a victory at the death, it was a poor performance.
As a consequence Amps squad this week sees a number of changes, up front a fit again Josh Walker starts at lock while Maama Molitika makes his first appearance of the season at eighthman.
Mikey Waters makes his 1stXV league debut at fly half having impressed for the 1881s and Spencer Sutherland, signed from Esher in the close season, also makes his 1stXV debut against his old club!