We are hiring! Please click here to join our growing magazine delivery team in Gloucestershire!

4. Leaflets Distributed with TLA

Former top referee Wayne Barnes to help high-flying Longlevens celebrate their 70th anniversary

All Areas > Sport > Rugby Union

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Friday, 22nd March 2024, 09:00

Former top international referee Wayne Barnes will be at Longlevens Rugby Club in September Former top international referee Wayne Barnes will be at Longlevens Rugby Club in September

Longlevens Rugby Club are enjoying the time of their lives.

They’re challenging for the Counties 1 Western North title, they’re the North Gloucestershire Combination Senior Cup holders and they also won the Papa John’s Community Cup Counties 1 South Plate final at the StoneX Stadium, home of Premiership high-fliers Saracens, at the back end of last season.

That’s some CV and their timing couldn’t be better because this year they are also celebrating their 70th anniversary.

The celebrations will officially get under way at the start of next season with chairman Richard Bennett saying with some understatement: “It’s going to be a big year.”

Former top international referee Wayne Barnes, who is originally from Bream in the Forest of Dean, will kick-off the celebrations when he is the special guest at a Sportsman’s Lunch at the club on Friday 20th September and there will be plenty else going on both before and after that special occasion.

“The club are on a real high,” said Bennett, a former player who joined Longlevens as a six-year-old back in 1977 and has been there ever since.

“If we win promotion we’ll be playing at the highest level in the club’s history.”

They want to go up as champions, of course, and on Saturday travel to second-placed Cinderford 2nds for a game that has all the makings of a title decider.

Longlevens, who will have just one game remaining after this weekend’s showdown, hold a 12-point advantage but Cinderford have played two games fewer.

“It will be a tough game for sure but we’re capable of doing it,” said Bennett.

“All our players are available and we’ve got plenty of confidence, we’re looking forward to it.”

Longlevens’ final league game is at home to Cleve on Saturday 6th April while after the weekend Cinderford 2nds, who are the Counties 1 Western North champions but lost 26-10 to Longlevens at the beginning of December,  will still have games against Clifton 2nds (home), Midsomer Norton (away) and Clevedon (away).

And the big games will keep coming for Longlevens once the league campaign has ended because they must go to Matson, the team they beat in such memorable fashion in the Combination Senior Cup final last May, in the opening round of this season’s competition while the club and their supporters would love a day out at Twickenham in the Papa John’s Community Cup Counties 1 Championship.

And few would bet against that happening – their first-round tie is at Ledbury on Saturday 13th April – with the club’s statistics showing just how good they’ve been over the past few years.

“We haven’t lost a game at home in the league since 26th January 2019, when we were beaten by Spartans,” continued Bennett.

“Sixteen of the 18 players in the squad for our game against Bridgwater & Albion on Saturday came through the junior section.

“It’s not just what we’re doing now, it’s what we’ve done over the past decade. I’m very proud.”

And while the club’s flagship team are enjoying great success, it’s fair to say the club are enjoying great success at all levels both on and off the pitch.

“We run four senior teams, including a mixed ability team,” added Bennett. “Our mixed ability team has just been invited to compete in the world cup for mixed ability teams in Pamplona, Spain, in June 2025, following our success in Cork in 2022.

“We also provide rugby for every age group for boys and girls from 18 months to 18 years.”

In addition, the club have put in for planning permission to install floodlights at their ground at Longford Lane which, if granted, will be another big step forward.

Many of their supporters won’t want this season to end, of course, but they will be comforted by the knowledge that there will be plenty going on at the club in the summer.

Chief among them is a Heart Heroes Charity Day on Saturday 6th July, which will see the Cherry Pickers taking on Bristol Vets.

Former Gloucester prop and Longlevens director of rugby Andy Deacon will be putting together the Cherry Pickers team for what is sure to be another memorable day for the club.

A number of those players will have come through the ranks at Longlevens and are sure to attend the club’s players’ reunion at the start of next year as part of the 70th anniversary celebrations.

And that should be a roaring success if a reunion lunch at the club at the weekend is anything to go by.

“About 100 former players came to the lunch before Saturday’s game,” said Bennett. “It was really good. Terry Bourne, the club’s first ever captain from 1954, was one of those there.”

He obviously has many tales to tell about Longlevens Rugby Club, as does former player and retired schoolteacher Chris Green who is producing a book on the club’s 70 years. It should be available towards the end of the year.

Copyright © 2024 The Local Answer Limited.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site's author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to The Local Answer Limited and thelocalanswer.co.uk with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

More articles you may be interested in...

The Local Answer. Advertise to more people in Gloucestershire
The Local Answer. More magazines through Gloucestershire doors

© 2024 The Local Answer Limited - Registered in England and Wales - Company No. 06929408
Unit H, Churchill Industrial Estate, Churchill Road, Leckhampton, Cheltenham, GL53 7EG - VAT Registration No. 975613000

Privacy Policy