1stXV Host Old Elthamians In Top Of The Table Crunch Match
Ampthill welcome top-of-the-table OLd Elthamians to Dillingham Park for what is likely to be a season defining game for both sides. With just 6 games to play in National 1 both sides are level on points at the top of the table with the visitors ranked first by virtue of having won one more game, Whoever wins this match will be in pole position to secure promotion to the Championship not withstanding the best efforts of of 3rd placed Rosslyn Park who are our 1stXV’s opposition at home in a fortnight. Does the prospect of Ampthill or Elthamians in the Championship raise the hair on the back of your neck?
OEs have had a meteoric rise up the leagues securing 3 promotions under DoR Gavin Lach while also finding and moving to their permanent home at College Meadows.
Old Elthamians RFC was founded in 1911 by the Old Boys of Eltham College. The school moved from Blackheath to its present site in Mottingham, SE London, and provided a pitch for the old boys to use and games were played up to the outbreak of World War 1.
A permanent ground was needed and Foxbury Field, in Chislehurst, was purchased by the Old Boys Association in 1951. Although playing numbers had increased in the fifties to the point where five teams were being fielded on a Saturday, they had declined in the seventies and the club went open to admit non-school players in 1972. This resulted in OEs being able to put out six teams.
In 1974 Old Elthamians were the second club in Kent to start a mini section, and the youngsters have gone from strength to strength ever since, now numbering about 360, in every team from under 7s to under 17s.
OEs moved to their present ground, College Meadows, in 2015
Gavin Lach, Director of Rugby, has overseen three promotions, taking the club from London One to their current position in National 1. Last season Old Elthamians finished runners-up to Bishop’s Stortford in National 2 South and then won the play-off against Sale from National 2 North to gain promotion.
Players who came through the Mini & Youth to go on to representative honours include Andrew Sheridan, Ben Ransom, Sam Farmer, Max Wilkins &; Nick Tompkins.
Old Elthamians top National 1 having won 18 of their 24 games. They play an open style of rugby and possess a dangerous back division with wing Dominc Lespierre their leading try scorer with 12 while full back Tom White tops National 1’s points scorers with 234. The return fixture, played back in November, resulted in a 13-13 draw after a titanic battle.
Last week Ampthill secured a fine away win at Rotherham 24-36 winning their 16th 4 try bonus point of the season in the process without playing as well as they have in recent weeks.
Head Coach Paul Turner comments “We have been playing some good stuff recently, training this week has gone well and we are looking forward to this Saturday.
I think both teams have been keeping an eye on each other for a while and it’s a massive game for both being level on points while the winner will put themselves in a strong position to challenge for the National 1 title and promotion to the Championship for the first time in either club’s history.
Games really don’t come any bigger than this so get down to Dillingham Park for a massive match followed by England v Italy on the big screen in the club house.”
There are four changes to the 1stXV squad this week, up front Aleki Lutui returns from injury at hooker, Captain Billy Johnson moves to lock with Sam Hudson starting at blind side. In the backs Gavin Williams rotates to scrum half while the bench sees the return of Sean Reffell and Euan McKirdy covering the back row and scrum half respectively.