This time last year Sutton & Epsom Rugby Football Club were looking optimistically at the brand new Regional 1 South Central anticipating opening their account at Lily Hill Park against Bracknell. Twelve months later following a season that was underwhelming in the extreme Sutton and Epsom came bottom of the league and were relegated. With the RFU shuffling the deck once more S&E have been placed in Regional 2 South East. For the second campaign on the bounce the Black & Whites will be welcoming some new league opponents in the form of Battersea Ironsides and Reeds Weybridge. Meanwhile they will be reacquainting themselves with familiar foes like Sidcup whilst Old Colfeians make a welcome return to Rugby Lane for the first time since 2006.
Notable players have departed for a variety of reasons including age, family life or the golf course and Messrs Caddy, Cooksammy, Drye, Harwood, Hurley & See will be hard to replace and a most grateful club offer them their heartiest best wishes for the future. But this is the cyclical nature of club rugby and it will provide an opportunity for young players to step into big boots and establish their reputation as an essential starter for the 1 st XV.
For the supporters the loss of those favourites will be compensated by the long-awaited return to the colours for Matt Whitaker following surgery after a fallow season last time around. One senior player has not hung up his boots and will be hoping for at least one more league encounter as prop Will Lloyd is currently a man with 99 league appearances under his belt and hopes to become the club’s 32nd league centurion.
Head Coach Paul Hodgson commenting on the season ahead said: “Since my return back at Sutton & Epsom RFC, I don’t feel there has been a more exciting time in this transition period between seasons. The main reason being is that a young crop of players, mainly graduates from the S&E RFC Junior section, will be making up the majority of the starting squad. Mixed in with a few experienced players and new faces, I feel the 1 st XV representing this great club will be a very competitive side. My prediction for the season is that there will be a lot of good times playing down at Rugby Lane and there will be some good wins achieved on the road.”
As usual the league season begins on the opening Saturday in September when Sutton & Epsom travel to Whitely Village to experience an inaugural league fixture with Reeds Weybridge. For those of you who frequent Rugby Lane the first home fixture is against Beckenham on Saturday 9th September kicking off at 3pm.
Full fixtures for the season can be found on the club’s website
The Rugby Lane ground can be found on this map.