Old Elthamians v 1stXV, Fri Mar 30, 14:00, National 1, Match Preview
This Friday Ampthill travel to face Old Elthamians for a double header, in National 1 this will be Amps first ever visit to College Meadows while in Zoo Division 1 the 2ndXVs face a 2nd v 3rd encounter.
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. An ambitious and very well organised club they represent a stiff challenge for the 1stXV.
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 have made a very successful start in National 1 winning 14 of their 25 games to lie 6th in the table. They play an open style of rugby and possess a dangerous back division with wing Dominc Lespierre, having scored 17, the leagues third leading try scorer. Results includes a very creditable draw away at Plymouth Albion and a win in the reverse fixture and a crushing defeat of Blackheath.
Last week Ampthill secured a fine away win at Rosslyn Park 21-31 to add to their home win over Plymouth Albion but recent results have been mixed with a loss and a draw at home to Cambridge and Loughborough Students respectively
Head Coach Paul Turner comments “Old Elthamians are an excellent side that play a fifteen man style of rugby with the best back three in the division, be in no doubt, at home they represent the toughest challenge remaning in the run in.
They are an ambitious and well resourced club that have a clear plan with the publicly stated aim of playing at the highest level.”
There are just two changes to the 1stXV squad this week, up front Josh White makes his first start for 1stXV at prop. Josh has come through the ranks at Ampthill with determination and attitude, he is proof with hard work anything is possible. Joe Bercis returns at openside with Will Allman rotating to the bench.