North Walsham’s title win ‘rewarded’ - and new season planning is already underway
- Credit: Archant
It seems a long time ago, but 2019-20 was an outstanding season for North Walsham with the Vikings winning London One North by a massive 29 points – and 20 weeks on from the game that sealed that triumph they were finally presented with the championship winners’ plaque.
Rugby is emerging cautiously from the pandemic, following government approved guidelines set by the Rugby Football Union (RFU). The RFU’s six stage Return to Rugby Road Map incorporates stringent hygiene regulations. Currently clubs are at stage two where training in groups of six without any close contact is allowed.
This has enabled the Vikings to start training on Tuesdays and Thursdays with director of rugby James Knight pleased by their fitness levels and enthusiasm.
There are plenty of new faces amongst the 40-plus regularly attending, with Tom Browes, Axel Hohneck and Will Swart the only departures from last season’s squad. Some newcomers have already joined, with others beginning the registration process.
“Whilst I’m confident our current players will perform well at the next level, going up a league needed a larger squad not just to cope with injuries and increased travel but also so we can rotate players,” said Knight. “I like what I’ve seen of the newcomers as both players and people. Hopefully they are enjoying their new surroundings and will commit to North Walsham. It’s a great club to be part of.”
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When the 2020-21 season might start and how many matches will be played, is inevitably uncertain. London & South East Premier has been split into two Conferences, the season into three phases. In phase one the Vikings would play the six other teams in their Conference (CS Stags 1863, Hertford, Maidenhead, Sidcup, Tring, Wimbledon) home and away. Phase two would see them play home or away the teams in the other Conference (Brighton, Dorking, Havant, Sevenoaks, Sutton, Tunbridge Wells, Westcombe Park), with those seven fixtures reversed for phase three. The RFU may extend the league season into May, meaning if it commences by October 10 all three phases could be completed. If the season starts between October 10 and November 28 only phases one and two (19 matches) would take place. Beyond then it would be phase one only with February 6 the last possible start date.
Whilst no start date has been set, the RFU have allocated dates for the first phase’s 14 rounds.
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September 5 Hertford (a) 12 Bye, 19 CS Stags (h) 26 Wimbledon (a). October 3 Tring (h), 10 Maidenhead (a), 17 Sidcup (h), 24 Hertford (h), 31 Bye. November 7 CS Stags (a), 14 Wimbledon (h), 21 Tring (a), 28 Maidenhead (h). December 5 Sidcup (h).
Any rounds missed because of a late start would be played after December 5. So, for example, if the first game was on September 19 the two missed rounds would be re-scheduled to December 12 and 19.
During the summer holidays the club will again be running their popular training camps. All are open to girls and boys, start on Tuesdays, and run for three days from 10am-3pm with different age groups each week. The first of the five camps is on August 4. Full details at www.pitchero.com/clubs/northwalsham - follow the “Summer Rugby Camp” link. You can sign on for one, two or three days, daily cost £30. No previous experience of rugby is needed. Participants should bring a packed lunch, plenty of fluid and wear kit appropriate for training. Each will be led by director of rugby James Knight and head coach Ryan Oakes.
Knight said “I’m sure everyone will enjoy themselves. Given Covid we’re obviously a bit restricted in what we can do but we’ve used our creativity to design remarkably broad programmes.”