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Stow-on-the-Wold RFC are a true family club

All Areas > Sport > Rugby Union

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Wednesday, 22nd December 2021, 08:00

Gus Hayward beating local rivals Shipston Gus Hayward beating local rivals Shipston

There are plenty of sports clubs who claim, with every justification, that they are ‘family orientated’.

But in Stow-on-the-Wold Rugby Club’s case there can be absolutely no doubt because, remarkably, they have eight sets of brothers in their senior squad.

Step forward the brothers in arms who are: Gus and Archie Hayward, Jacob and Ben Collett, James and Ted Holmes and Will Marks, Craig and Lewis Chapman, Sam and Ben Canning, Craig and Lee Voisey, Alex and Giles King, and Harry and Archie Gaden.

And the family connection goes even deeper than that because the Collett boys’ dad, James, is the current chairman of the club and a former 1st XV captain, while the seniors also boast a father/son combination in Mark and James Ingham.

“Yes, it is quite amazing,” said Gus Hayward, a full-back in the club’s flagship team. “It’s a great family environment. I suppose the rural nature of the club has got something to do with it but it’s a really good place to be at the moment, the club is buzzing.”

And it’s not difficult to see why because the flagship team have made a flying start to their Southern Counties North campaign, while the 2nd XV are going equally well in Berks/Bucks & Oxon 3 North.

“The coaches have done a great job and we’ve got a few new recruits,” said Hayward, “we’re going from strength to strength.”

There’s still an awful lot of rugby to be played this season, of course, and Hayward, for one, is not getting carried away, but equally there is no shortage of ambition at a club that were formed way back in 1879.

“Deep down, with the ability we’ve got in the squad, we should be pushing for promotion,” continued Hayward. “We’ve got a lot of tough games to come but if we carry on as we are there is no reason why we can’t challenge at the top.”

And 26-year-old Hayward should know what he is talking about because he has been with the club since the age of six, graduating through the junior ranks before earning his place in the 1st XV.

He can also play in the centre and at fly-half but these days is established as the club’s number one full-back.

His 25-year-old brother Archie is a fly-half for the 2nds, although at the time of writing he was sidelined with a hernia injury.

“I think he’s good enough to feature for the 1st XV,” said his older brother, “he’s a good player.”

And there could soon be a third Hayward brother pushing for regular selection in the senior teams in the not too distant future.

“My youngest brother Theo is at university at the moment.” said Hayward. “He’s played a couple of games, he’s a full-back or centre.”

And if he does become a regular at Stow that will mean even more games for the boys’ dad, Nic, to go to.

“He loves watching us play rugby,” said Gus. “He used to play football and cricket but now he’s watching us at Stow he always says he wishes he’d played rugby.”

And with the feel-good factor in such plentiful supply at Stow it’s not difficult to see why.

“We get good numbers at training every Tuesday and Thursday,” said Gus. “We get 30 or 40 players on a Tuesday and even more on Thursdays. I remember when we’d only get five players on some Tuesdays.

“This is the best time at the club in my 20 years there, it’s not just the results.

“The club are a big part of my life, I love being there, there’s a great buzz about the place.”

Other Images

Archie Hayward
Ben Collett
Jake Collett
James Holmes vs Bicester
Ted Holmes
Will Marks

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