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Fairford are ready to take on new challenge in Gloucestershire One

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Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Monday, 26th August 2019, 09:00

Fairford’s Mike Wrona scoring the winning try in the play-off game against Bream last season. Picture, Charlotte Eccles. Fairford’s Mike Wrona scoring the winning try in the play-off game against Bream last season. Picture, Charlotte Eccles.

Fairford Rugby Club are going places.

Promotion from Gloucestershire Two North via the play-offs at the end of last season means they will be playing in Gloucestershire One for the first time in their history in 2019/20.

That in turn means they will be playing against some serious teams this season, chief among them Cirencester, who play just a few miles up the road from them.

“We’ve never played their 1st team before,” said Fairford chairman Jonathan Chambers.

“When I first joined the club in 2002, we’d only just started playing league rugby. We used to play Cirencester’s 3rds and we used to get beaten by them. It’s only in the last five years that we’ve been victorious against their 2nds.

“We’re playing them in our second home league fixture of the new season so that should be a corker.”

Chambers, a former player and captain, is under no illusions about the size of the task facing Fairford this season.

“It is definitely a big step up,” he admitted, “but we’ve had a bit of momentum for a few years. Hopefully we can hold our own. It will be interesting to see how we get on and whether we can sustain it.”

Fairford have only been competing in the Gloucestershire Division for the past five years or so after originally playing in the Dorset/Wiltshire Division.

“We got into the first division and finished mid-table in Dorset/Wiltshire,” added Chambers, “but Gloucestershire One will definitely be a higher level.”

Chambers said that switching to the Gloucestershire Division was “a good move” for the club and as well as coming up against Cirencester in the league next season they will also take on Dursley.

Dursley, like Cirencester, compete in the end-of-season Stroud Combination Senior Cup, a competition Fairford will take part in in 2019/20 for the first time following their promotion.

Under competition rules, their flagship team have been allowed to compete in the lower level Junior Cup, a competition they have won for the past three years.

And while obviously delighted with their new-found status, Chambers admits that he’ll miss the Junior Cup.

“I’m just looking at the trophy now,” he said with a laugh, “it’s in my office at home. We’ve done very well in the competition, winning it for the last three seasons and four years ago we only lost out to Dursley 2nds in the final on tries scored after drawing the game 19-19.”

One of Chambers’ big aims this season, apart from seeing the 1st team doing well in their new division, is for the club to field a regular 2nd XV.

“We have upwards of 35 to 40 people at training and we need to make sure there are enough fixtures for them,” he said.

“Not everyone has the skill or the belief to play in the 1st team.”

Chambers said that even if the 2nd XV did start playing more regularly he still expects them to compete in the Stroud Combination’s Bill Adams Trophy – a competition that is a level below the Junior Cup – which means there will be a new name on the Junior Cup come the end of the season.

“Maybe we’ll have to let it go for a season or two,” laughed Chambers, who lives in Fairford.

Chambers, a no.8, played in the few 2nd XV and vets’ games that were organised last season even though he is now in his 50s and was captain of the club when they won their first league title – Dorset/Wiltshire Three – back in 2005.

He has been chairman of the club for about five years and is optimistic that the club will survive at their new level this season.

“We’re up against some well-established, big clubs who have big squads,” he said. “But we’ve got some very good players and our head coach Danny Briggs is a very experienced guy.”

These certainly are very exciting times for Fairford Rugby Club.

Other Images

Former captain Ants Little, with Scott Cohoon and club president Jonathan Chambers with the Junior Cup. Picture, Charlotte Eccles.
Fairford sponsor Moreton Cullimore, the team and Gloucester players: Danny Cipriani, Josh Hohneck and Owen Williams. Picture, Charlotte Eccles.
Danny Cipriani with one of the club’s minis. Picture, Charlotte Eccles.

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