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We do play (and, this weekend, will watch) a lot of rugby.  This is made possible by the three pillars of strength that underpin the club: our loyal membership, our fabulous volunteers and our generous sponsors. This bumper edition has stories about them all - plus match reports from all the playing sections. Read on....

Etienne Van Der Brink
Coach of the Year
Brian Messenger
Highly Commended
Volunteer of the Year.

Club volunteers recognised by
Farnham Sports Council

On Monday night the club house hosted the Farnham Sports Council's annual awards ceremony.  The awards recognise champions from a panoply of sports, teams and individuals from across the community.  

Kylie Grimes, a keen supporter of our club and member of Team GB's golden wheelchair rugby squad, was named Sports Personality of the Year.

Our two members recognised for their contribution prove the massive impact volunteers have on amateur sport.

Here are their nominations:

Award: Coach of the Year 
Nominee: Etienne van den Brink, Farnham Rugby Club
In 2018 Farnham RUFC had less than 20 female playing members. Today there are nearly 200. 

Thanks to Girls’ Head Coach Etienne van den Brink, the increase in teenage girls playing rugby at Farnham is continually on the up. After a long coaching career at schools in South Africa, Etienne’s playing days were drawing to a close when he approached the Club and volunteered to coach in the Junior section. Remarkably and unlike the vast majority of junior coaches, Etienne does not have offspring playing at the club.

Although he had never coached girls rugby, he immediately accepted the challenge to lead the Girls Section. Starting pre-Covid with less than ten U18’s & just over ten U15’s, Etienne’s collaborative approach and positive coaching style have seen those numbers swell to over twenty U18’s & nearly thirty U15’s - even as the pandemic limited the amount of rugby available. For the very first time in its history, the Club is able to field 15 a-side teams in both girls’ age groups. 

While the numbers are impressive, even better are the sessions where, with new arrivals every week, Etienne plans and leads a coaching team delivering to a large group of 13-18 year olds, some of whom have played since they were five years old, while others have only played for a week or two. The fact the girls keep coming back and other girls keep joining is testament to how well Etienne leads the group. 

At the last session before this Christmas, it was announced that he was flying back to South Africa. Each and every player reacted to this news as if their world had come to end…before it was explained he was just going for a couple of weeks holiday, much to the relief of all! 

Award: Volunteer of the Year
Nominee: Brian Messenger, Farnham Rugby Club
Farnham Rugby Club provides a safe and enjoyable environment in which 1000 young people learn and play rugby every Sunday from September to April. With just four pitches of its own, the task is to find playing space for all age groups from Under 6 to Under 17/18 – many groups numbering 50 plus young people. There are also girls and boys Junior (U12-U17/18) fixtures to allow for and arrange – both cup and friendlies – plus festivals and fixtures for the Minis (U5-U11). 

The job requires liaising with clubs across the South-East, the Army and local schools from whom the club hires additional playing space as well as the club’s grounds manager, coaches and administrators across its playing sections. Given that even “home” matches must sometimes take place at the Army grounds in Aldershot, the task requires finesses and a sense of balance to ensure all age groups get a fair crack at playing at Monkton Lane.  While the task bears fruit during the season, the planning and liaison work keeps going all year long.

If putting this large and complex jigsaw together week-in, week-out is not enough, there was yet another scheduling complication to manage when rugby returned after lockdown. The number of people at the club had to be limited – yet everyone had to play.  And they did!

For the past few years and today, this unseen but invaluable role has been cheerfully fulfilled by club stalwart Brian Messenger. What is more, after every week of intense yet diplomatic communications activity, a tireless Brian will be there, first thing on a Sunday morning, to oversee the thankless task of marshalling car parking which often requires directing visitors to overflow space kindly loaned to the club by businesses on the Monkton Park Industrial Estate – as arranged by Brian.

The club is determined that Brian’s heroic efforts no longer remain unsung.

Man of the Match Ben Jones streaks away for his try in the 1st XV league game against Camberley on Saturday.  We were well beaten 19-40 by the league #2, but with some better luck, fewer errors and more clinical finishing, the score may have been a lot closer.  Read the full report.

The lads are now on the road for the rest of the month with games at London Irish this Saturday and then at Guildford and KCS Old Boys before the home game against Chichester on 5th March.  

This Saturday the Vikings are also away to Rosslyn Park, so your Monkton Lane rugby is provided by the Warriors and the Barbarians who face Old Caterhamians and Ventnor respectively.

The Six Nations games - WAL V SCO at 2.15pm and FRA V IRE at 4.45pm will also be on at the club.

Sunday provides another banquet of rugby to enjoy culminating in Italy v England on the big screens. KO 3.00pm There are no less than six home games featuring junior boys and girls and the Falcons II league match against Camberley (to make the inter-club competition a 1-1 draw?).  On the day, the Minis will start their sessions from 9.00am - so it will be hectic.

Please park sensibly and simply do as you are bid by the long suffering - and brilliant - volunteers manning the car park.
Last week we featured an U16 player demonstrating good tackling technique.  This week the job goes to Jake Platt during Farnham's U13s convincing cup win by nine tries to one at Battersea Ironsides on Sunday.

In their semi-final of the Hants cup, the U16Bs made a rare trip to Portsmouth who were the more pumped of the two teams and scored the first points after 8mins with a penalty. The boys fought well, a fantastic 50-yard kick from Fletch being a highlight early on.  25mins in and new boy Oscar Golding made a fantastic run on the right wing setting up his name’s sake Oskar Parker for the first try of the game.  The wind made the conversion too difficult, but Farnham now led 3:5.

Handbags were drawn on 28mins, as enthusiasm got the better of some of Portsmouth players. They also lost their captain with a cut eye.  Lively support from the Portsmouth coaches only added to the atmosphere.  A couple of handling errors and slips prevented further scores, but Farnham’s signature scrum was strong especially Dylan, Jack and Issacs. Lineouts proving challenging for both teams due to the conditions.   Farnham went in at half time leading, 3:5.

The second half Farnham had the wind behind them.  Started strongly but a slow retreat and lack of width in defence left Farnham exposed and Portsmouth ran in a nicely worked try with a series of linked passes at pace.  A successful conversion took the game to 10:5.  With Farnham on the back foot, a strong defence resulted in further scuffle, but the home team went over for a second try and conversion, 17:5.  

A series of errors by both teams made for a scrappy second half.  The final try of the game also went to Portsmouth with a series of grubber kicks and the ensuing foot race resulting in a very 'football like' try, a missed conversion made the final score 22:5.   So a tough game, in challenging conditions.  Final mention for Dylan Warren as a worthy man of the match.

Meanwhile, the Academy kept their momentum up in the Quins Cup with a hard earned home victory over a physical and athletic Wimbledon side. 

A tense first half ended with the score delicately poised at 12-0 thanks to a classic number 8 pick from the base of the scrum by Henry Wormwell and a flying interception from his 22 by winger Khi Samuels. 

Wimbledon struck back in the second half to close to 12-5 but resolute defence and a desire to move the ball into the wider channels meant that Farnham started to wear the opposition down.

Fly-half Stan Platt drifted through a gap out wide opened up by strong running from the Farnham forwards. A further long range effort from Max Williams opened up the score line and the result was rounded off by a penalty try as Wimbledon threw all they had at limiting the damage. 
Smiles all round as Farnham U15 Girls - The Eagles - celebrate a great game of rugby with the opposition at Wimbledon RFC.

After a couple of bruising Waterfall Cup encounters the U15 Girls ventured inside the M25 to face a Wimbledon side who had teamed up with Old Emmanuel RFC for the fixture. Unavailable through injury and illness meant that only 14 Farnham players made the trip but did they turn up!  

The Eagles raced to a 27-0 lead at half time with try scoring prop sensation Ella smashing over for an early score before the Eagles produced their best running rugby of the season with 2 tries out wide for Polly on the wing and another brace from Hattie from fullback. Phoebe added a conversion.

The hosts produced a much more dominant forward display in the 2nd half to score three tries and while struggling for possession, the Eagles held on to win 27-19. 
On Sunday, your club sent over a dozen squads of Minis to the Guildford Festival.

The U9s (above) did us proud.  John Hartley takes up the story,,,

On Sunday, an intrepid troop of Under 9s girls and boys travelled to Guildford Rugby Club for a Minis Rugby Festival, accompanied by Mike Darlow and his merry band of coaches.
For many, this was their first experience of tackling in a competitive match, so quite a daunting prospect – but one which the children reveled in!
A lot of our time over the past eight or so weeks since the RFU allowed tackling practice to commence has been dedicated to safe and effective tackle technique, and the children have learned a whole new lexicon during that time. 
Parachute falls, shoulder-to-shorts, cheek-to-cheek and ‘ring of steel’ were not phrases any of the coaches had meaningfully deployed before November.  However, those words have become the foundation for what we saw on Sunday, which was the delight of the children engaged in no-holds-barred full-contact rugby for the first time.
There were some inevitable bumps and scrapes, and one or two tears were shed along the way – but no more than the average England fan had shed the day before on watching Luke Cowan-Dickie’s flailing attempt at fielding Finn Russell’s kick pass.
Our thanks must go to Guildford for a very well run and friendly event, which featured teams from Chobham, Cranleigh, Farnborough, Guidlford, Guildfordians, Old Rutlishians, Richmond, Sutton & Epsom and Weybridge Vandals. Quite the rollcall!
Farnham took along two teams, and it was superb to see all 20 of our players leaving the event having been able to deploy the fruits of their hard work in training, and their bravery in the tackle, to such great effect.  No one was really keeping scores, but our teams performed admirably.
Most importantly, all the children left the field not only with a winner’s medal round their necks, but a winning smile on their faces – and that very first taste of what rugby is really all about.
A joyous day!
Charters Estate Agents are long term supporters of the club.  Every quarter they publish an informative newsletter about the local property market.
Our volunteers do what they do because they want to give something back to the organisation that affords them and their children fun, achievement and community. However, there's no harm in recognising individuals as and when  - as well illustrated by the Farnham Sports Council awards.

There's a team of volunteers who, until now, have gone largely unrecognised save for a ripple of applause from the well-fed. These are the young people from junior age groups  - boys and girls - who give up their precious Saturday afternoons to wait on table at the supporters lunches that precede our 1st XV home games.

Now, thanks to keen club supporter, smart/tasking - a well respected IT outsourcing and consulting business based in Farnham - these boys' and girls' collection of stash is now augmented by a T-shirt proclaiming them a club volunteer.

"The tee-shirts mark smart/tasking’s ongoing support of our great, local rugby club, and its many volunteers," said founding partner Niall Anderson.

Pictured above are the U15 "stewards" who were presented their T-shirts by the chairman after the lunch ahead of the Hammersmith and Fulham game.
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