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Stow-on-the Wold are looking to end the season on a high

All Areas > Sport > Rugby Union

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Wednesday, 27th April 2022, 09:00

The Stow-on-the-Wold team who won the Cheltenham Combination Senior Cup in 1990 The Stow-on-the-Wold team who won the Cheltenham Combination Senior Cup in 1990

Stow-on-the-Wold Rugby Club look to cap a fabulous season with a cup double on Saturday.

Their 1st and 2nd XVs will be centre stage for the Cheltenham and District Combination’s finals day at Cheltenham North, with the flagship side taking on Old Patesians in the Senior Cup and the second team facing Cheltenham Tigers in the Junior Cup.

These are heady days for the Cotswolds club who are still celebrating after seeing off the challenge of Reading in such impressive style to win the Southern Counties North title earlier this month, while the 2nd XV finished a very creditable second in Berks/Bucks & Oxon 3 North.

And one man who is certainly enjoying the good times is James Collett, a former player and lifelong supporter of the club who has been chairman for the past three years.

“This is my first full season as chairman because in the first two years we weren’t able to play much because of Covid,” he explained.

And while there wasn’t much rugby played in those two years, a lot of work certainly went on behind the scenes because Stow, although always a good, community club, have made massive strides on the field this season.

“What a transformation,” said Collett. “We’ve got a really good head coach in Matt Carter and this success has been a long time coming.

“It’s been built on the back of a very successful minis and juniors set-up, I’d say 90 per cent of our team are home-grown and we’re in this extraordinary position of having eight or nine sets of brothers in the top two teams.”

Those sets of brothers include Collett’s two boys – Jacob and Ben. Both are 1st XV players, although Ben will miss Saturday’s showpiece game because of injury.

“It’s wonderful to watch them play,” continued Collett. “We’re on the crest of the wave at the moment and we’re enjoying the wave. I’m a realist, it’s just one of those times but long may it last.”

And what makes it even more special for Collett is that he is celebrating the club’s success with people he played with back in the day.

One of those people, former second row Dave Oughton, is now the club’s president and his son Will, also a lock, is captain of the 2nd XV.

Ian Roberts, a former captain like Collett and Oughton, is the club’s groundsman and Collett said: “A lot of the players who played when I was playing are still involved in the club in some way.”

And just like the current team, they were successful too, winning the Cheltenham Combination Senior Cup in 1990 in the days when the final was played on a Wednesday evening at the Prince of Wales Stadium.

Collett was the captain back then when he lined up in the centre alongside current TV personality Adam Henson, a side that included the aforementioned Oughton and Roberts.

Full-back Simon Fowler was the Stow hero 32 years ago, scoring 13 points in his side’s 17-12 win over Old Patesians and Collett said: “We had a good team, we got to quite a few finals and we also won the Combination 7s that year, we were on a roll.”

Collett obviously hopes that Stow get on a roll on Saturday but he knows it will be tough against two clubs who know how to win cup finals.

The Pats have had a tough season in South West One West but Collett does not accept that Stow will go into the game as favourites.

“No, I don’t think that,” he said. “What I will say is that we’ve got pretty much a full team, everybody is available, but Pats have got nothing to lose.”

Stow beat Cheltenham 32-20 to book their place in the Senior Cup final and Collett hopes that doesn’t work against the 2nd XV in the Junior Cup final.

“Cheltenham are not going to be an easy side to beat,” he said. “It will be a challenging game. They’ll want revenge for that semi-final, hopefully they won’t take it out on our 2nds.”

But Collett, who said the 2nd XV may move across to the Gloucestershire leagues next season, remains upbeat.

“We’ve got a bunch of lads who enjoy playing rugby,” he said. “We’re a young side but with a few oldies who used to play in the 1st XV.”

And that enjoyment of all things rugby stretches right across the club.

“We’ve got a really decent coaching set-up,” added Collett. “Everyone’s enjoying being part of the club, they like playing rugby and they want to have a good time.”

Finals day schedule
Minor Cup final:
Norton 2nds v Cheltenham Tigers 3rds (1pm).
Junior Cup final: Stow-on-the-Wold 2nds v Cheltenham Tigers 2nds (3pm).
Senior Cup final: Stow-on-the-Wold v Old Patesians (5pm).

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