Summer 2023 Newsletter

“Pooh,” asked Piglet. “Is it Ok to be sad sometimes?” “Yes Piglet,” Replied Pooh. “Even the chubbiest of Bears can besad when they have lost a bear that they loved. ”Piglet put his arm round Piglet and they sat quietly and watched the sun set over the posts for a while.

This newsletter starts with some sad news of the passing of Roy Hough, an OIRFC stalwart and legend. Roy played in the first season for OIRFC in 1958 while still in the IGS sixth form. He took on the role of Honorary Secretary for many years until he moved to the West Country in the early 70s. During that time he was the club’s archivist and up until his passing, he could be relied on to provide us with details of matches and tours, including the weekly match reports in the Middlesex Chronicle. Our players from the early seasons are now in their 80s and unfortunately, it is not unusual to hear such sad news, including in the past year the passing of two former OIRFC captains John Ridley and Tony Sansom, and Baz Jones.

It has been a busy few weeks so this Newsletter will be a little longer than usual.

As we had been promoted in the last two seasons, getting to the playoffs for the third year running was quite an achievement. In the end, in Merit Table 2 we finished 4th out of nine with a record of played 15, won 7, points for 336 with 393 against. That belies a couple of close wins at home against sides above us with heavy away losses in return. There was also a cup win and loss. We were clearly stronger at home with a 5 – 2 win/loss ratio. A summary of the season is that we were probably at the right level but with our strongest team (that we could rarely put out) and we could compete with any of the promoted sides. Another shame was that we could not put out a Second XV and the Vets (Fats Stags jointly with Teddington) only managed a few games.

At an important AGM in June we approved an updated Constitution. A few typos will be corrected and the final version will be circulated shortly. The Finances have been through some rigorous sorting and chasing since Bean Mhitook over as Treasurer and she presented a mixed position. The playing account for 2022/23 shows a £4k deficit due predominately to the reduction in games. Fortunately, healthy social activity and fundraising took the full position close to breaking even but we clearly need to work hard on both fronts. It is a good time to thank Adrianne and Simon at The Royal Oak for their continued shirt sponsorship. We have signed up some additional kit sponsors for next season as will be revealed shortly.

This Year’s AGM also saw the election of a new Club captain. Brooke Avann has been Vice-Captain to Stuart May for a year and has the respect of the players as a guy who leads from the front as does his new Vice Captain StephenRac. While Brooke has big boots to fill, he will do a great job and we wish him well. Stu will still be available with Dave Samuel, Dan Nevison, and Stephen Rac to support preparations that are underway for 2023/24. Colin Rance also stepped down as 2nd/Vets skipper and Evergreen Wallace has agreed to jump in for the time being. Following on from touch rugby on Wednesday evenings, pre-season training started on the 5th of July.

At the Annual Dinner the week before the AGM we were able to celebrate Stu’s tenure as Club Captain – the longest (2016/17 to 2022/23) and most successful (in terms of Table promotions) in the history of the Club. Apart from winning the Club Spirit Award, he was presented with an engraved pewter tankard in recognition of his services. Other winners were: Player of the Season, Brooke Avann; Young Player, Elliot Dorsey; Vets Player, Simon Daws, and the Dribbly Dick to Kit Bispham who was also the leading try scorer. Luke Robinson collected a shield as captain of our team from the Middlesex Sevens organizers for good sportsmanship. (Errr, don’t ask about the actual results.) Congratulations to all and a big thanks to Splash Davies for another busy season as Honorary Secretary, and a successful AGM and Dinner.

Our busy Summer continued with a game of Cricket vs Grasshoppers and a Sevens tournament at Grasshoppers on the same Wednesday evening. Let’s just say they were successful social events! Cricket was also on the agenda at this year’s Family Fun Day as a three-way pub tourney between The Royal Oak, The Ailsa, and the bridge (with most of the Oak’s winning team from OIRFC) went on at the same time as intermittent touch, charity fundraising, children’s entertainment and the ubiquitous BBQ (thanks Hamish). Shout outs to Jim Keane and all at Ajah Tech for sponsoring the Bouncy Castle and to Alan ‘Paddington’ Breden for generously supplying bottles for the Tombola and so many people who helped organize. We also made a 50/50 Draw for £50 won by Brooke, hopefully, a sign that he will be a lucky captain. A call for members to sign up for the 50/50 will be sent separately.

So, as we move towards a new season our Recruitment Team is out there seeking new players and we are gearing up for training. Details of the Club’s first home fixture will be made shortly but there are dates for your diary. The Rugby World Cup starts on Friday 8th September with France v New Zealand at 7.15 pm. Come down to the Club for that and all key games of the tournament. We will send out a schedule nearer the date along with details of this year’s Casino Night on the 25th of November. Put that date in your diary as last season’s was huge fun and made well-needed money for your Club’s coffers.

Finis Coronat Opus

Tiny Richards, OIRFC Chairman