IWRFC shows volunteer strength

The Isle of Wight RFC were celebrating last week after one of its foremost volunteers was awarded the prestigious title of Administrator of the Year at Hampshire RFU’s annual Volunteer Awards. Colman Cotter was rewarded for his instrumental role in the renovation of IWRFC’s bar area and social space, which has previously won awards at national level. The revamp was completed in association with Modh Design, a Cowes-based architectural and graphic design firm. Colman had previously been recognised for his endeavours by the club in recent weeks, receiving the rare status of Honorary Life Member of the IWRFC.

Mr Cotter was not the only IWRFC member to be recognised at the awards night, as fellow volunteers Joni Simpson and Dave Metcalfe were also nominated for awards. Mrs Simpson was nominated by club members in recognition of her tireless work in catering at home games at the IWRFC’s Wootton clubhouse, while Mr Metcalfe was nominated for his exceptional service to the club in a number of roles, not least his co-ordination of coaching and playing matters over the last few seasons.

Pictured at the Hampshire RFU Volunteer Awards are (left) Joni Simpson and (right) Colman Cotter of IWRFC, with a Hampshire RFU representative.

The Hampshire awards coincided with further evidence of IWRFC’s volunteer strength and contribution to its community, as the club held its annual work day at All Saints Church, Freshwater. Club members lent a hand to the church volunteers to complete some manual labour in the church’s adjacent cemetery. Parishioner and church volunteer Carole Walker stated: “We are always grateful to the Isle of Wight RFC for their help. With an aging volunteer base, some of the work to maintain the grounds can be physically challenging, so the rugby lads’ help is invaluable.” IWRFC chairman Ollie Boulter added: “The club is pleased to help out in any way we can. In a week where some of our volunteers were recognised at county level, I would like to thank all club volunteers throughout the year, whatever their role.”

Pictured are IWRFC volunteers with members of All Saints Church, Freshwater.

Latest club news – 1 June 2017

The Isle of Wight RFC held their AGM at the clubhouse recently, reflecting on a satisfactory season for both first and second teams, plus successes off the field which included a national award and the opening of new changing rooms at the club. The highlight of the evening was the awarding of Honorary Life Membership of the club to Neil Brading, in recognition of his exceptional service to the club in various roles over several years.

The following officers were elected at the AGM for the 2017-18 season:

President: Paul Simpson

Chairman: Ollie Boulter

Hon. Secretary: Kieran Leahy

Hon. Treasurer: Neil Brading

Membership Secretary: Martin Newnham

Fixtures/Match Secretary: Andy Puckett

1st Team Captain: Lewis Murray

2nd Team Captain: Tim Greedy

Club Captain: Dan Stirrup

On the weekend of 24/25 June, the club will take part in NatWest RugbyForce, making some further improvements to the clubhouse. All three Lions tests in New Zealand will be shown at the club, which will open at 8 am each match day.

An Alternative View of IWRFC with O’Pinion – Sunday 23 April 2017

The end of the 2016-17 season is almost here; touring side Medway visit next weekend, when Sunday will be rugby day! However, this weekend saw the annual awards evening on Friday night, followed by the second team’s hungover final match of the season on Saturday.

A novel venue (The Cow Co. at Tapnell Farm) hosted the glitzy awards do on Friday evening, attended by 100 Rangers and their families/significant others. A splendid evening, ably compered by chairman Ollie Boulter saw fine dining, ample drinking, devilish dancing, and a half-hour of controlled partial nudity inspired by Mr Harry Dye. A host of volunteer awards were given to those who keep the club running from week to week, often carrying out unglamorous chores. There were also some comedic alternative awards.

The main awards of the evening were allocated as follows: Young Player of the Year – Evan Toms. 2nd Team Player of the Year – Jayme Bishop. 1st Team Player of the Year – Owen Herbert. Players’ Player of the Year – Martin Newnham (for the second year running – some achievement by Freda!) The Chairman’s Award will be presented at the AGM on Wednesday 17 May. However, the President’s Award was doubly special this year – it was awarded to Colman Cotter, who was also conferred with the rare honour of honorary life membership of the club for his tireless efforts and invaluable advice in the renovation and extension of the IWRFC clubhouse. Well done feen.

Sore heads and bleary eyes aside, Saturday dawned sunny and warm, and Winchester Vets travelled to the Island for the final Solent League 3 match of the season. A fine game ensued, which Tim Greedy’s 2nds won 38-24. Coincidentally, this was the exact scoreline of the 1sts’ last league game, when they beat Romsey. There were four (4!) tries for Spanish import Cesar on the wing. ‘Hail Cesar!’ – thanks to Dave Metcalfe for the headline. Later, young Alex Augustus came off the bench to add two further tries, watched by his dad Ivan. This win gave the seconds fourth place (out of 12) in the league after a long but satisfying campaign – indeed, only Eastleigh’s superior points difference separated us from third.

One more game and then it’s several months without competitive rugby action. Hope to see you all next Sunday!

Report: 1sts v Romsey (H), Sat. 8 April 2017

IWRFC 38 Romsey 24

In their final league game of the season, the Island gained their revenge for an opening day loss to Romsey.

Early Island pressure at the scrum suggested that the day would go the way of the home side as hooked ball was moved wide for Owen Herbert to make inroads and feed Evan Toms for a score. However the visitors were determined and tenacious throughout and gained the lead with a penalty, quickly followed by a converted try.

The Island stepped up their pressure with a quick break by Alex Augustus to score, Lewis Murray adding the kick.

It was again Augustus who, with a quick tapped penalty, scampered over for his second try, Murray again adding the kick.

Herbert then had one of his trademark runs, stepping and dancing through the Romsey defence to score, with the conversion added.

The second half saw the departing Brett Evans score, before Augustus added his third after another quick tapped penalty, Murray adding the kick.

With a 28 point lead, the home side seemed to relax as the visitors upped their tempo, scoring two converted tries.

With the final whistle the club said farewell to two true Rangers as Andrew Brown and Brett Evans depart for adventures new. The club wishes them well.

On the adjoining pitch, the second team recorded a resounding 61-14 win over Romsey’s 2nds.

G Warvill, E Toms, O Herbert, D Stirrup, T Marriott, L Murray, A Augustus, A Hay, B Evans, A Brown, O Boulter, A Smith, M Tanner, D Tennant, M Newnham. G Smith, N Brading.

Report: 1sts v Fareham Heathens (A), Sat. 1 April 2017

Fareham Heathens 36-19 IWRFC

In their last away game of the season, the Island could not return home with a win.

Early Heathens pressure encounted strong Island defence, leading to turnover ball. Quick recycling by forwards led to Owen Herbert to score, Lewis Murray adding the conversion.

Heathens responded with two scores of their own before the visitors again ran through four sets of phases for captain Dan Stirrup to score.

However it was the home side who ended the half stronger adding two further tries.

Fareham again had the run of the half as they stretched their lead. But again the Island showed their determination and over the last ten minutes were constantly on the attack, led by man of the match Andrew Brown.

However they could only muster a single try as Herbert chipped and collected his kick to score and add the conversion.

IWRFC: O Herbert, J Webster, M Wood, D Stirrup, E Toms, L Murray, A Augustus, A Hay, B Evans, A Brown, A Raunigger, A Smith, R Keyes, D Tennant, M Newnham, T Kearney, C Williams, A Rann.

An Alternative View of IWRFC – by O’Pinion Sun. 26 March 2017

An Alternative View of IWRFC – by O’Pinion                                     Sun. 26 March 2017

So the Six Nations is over for another year. O’Pinion thoroughly enjoyed Ireland’s win over England in the tournament finale, and frankly has only just sobered up, though events on the field weren’t the only Irish victory that weekend. Yes, your columnist went shot for shot in a Dublin nightclub with English no.8 Billy Vunipola and won, then managed to avoid the paparazzi while Big Billy was pictured a little ‘worse for wear.’ A good sport, all the same. (See the end of this week’s column for O’Pinion’s updated Lions Test XV.)

Most importantly, IWRFC hosted Ventnor at the Rec and secured their third win from four local derbies this season. It was a good day up the club with a well attended VPs’ lunch and plenty of ‘well-oiled’ spectators, keen to offer the players and the referee the benefits of their wisdom. The game itself sometimes sparked into life, even if it was often a scrappy, stop-start affair.

A very strong wind played its part in limiting the fayre on show, making accurate passing a challenge for both sides. For IW who dominated possession and looked more dangerous, it was particularly disruptive, though the Rangers did not always help themselves with a few too many 50-50 passes and fumbles. It was also noteworthy that both teams arguably played better into the wind, rather than with it at their backs.

IW played into that gale first half, and after an uneventful first few minutes, an interception pass was gleefully run in by Ventnor for the opening score. To the boys’ credit, there was no panic and they quickly recovered to force the pace from then on. There was an issue with slow support play and good work by the opposition at the breakdown at times, preventing continuity. However, when IW got it right, there were some dazzling passages of play, one such leading to the fearsome sight of Smudge handing off an opponent on the 22 before cantering over to level the scores. Another great score followed soon after, finished by captain Dan Stirrup (I think), so IW led 10-5 at half-time, with the wind to follow.

The opening minutes of the second half saw aggressive defence lead to territory, and Owen cut a great line to score under the posts, Lewis converting. At this point, it seemed likely that we would pull away, score the bonus point try and possibly rack up quite a margin. This did not happen. Maybe it was dogged play by Ventnor, of which there was plenty. Maybe the Rangers slackened off, but I don’t think so. Certainly some of the referee’s decisions did not find favour with the home side, who grew frustrated as they were repeatedly penalised, often at the breakdown.

Ventnor’s persistence was rewarded as they established some field position of their own in the closing minutes and battered at the IW defence, which held firm and cleared their lines. However, the play was called back and Ventnor did score their try, remarkably now only seven points behind. IW roused themselves and laid siege to the Ventnor 22, eventually securing the four-try bonus with the last play. Fittingly, it was outstanding skipper Stirrup who finished the scoring.

So, not a great display, though in fairness there was no shortage of effort and heart from the Rangers, and winning while playing a bit below par is never a bad sign. Sixth place is now almost certainly the lowest we’ll finish this season – securing fifth depends on winning our last two games, away to Heathens and home to Romsey. Achievable but not easy. It’s been a good season – let’s have a fitting finale, boys. Rangers! Rugby!

IW: Herbert, Webster, Stirrup ©, Wood, Toms, Murray, Augustus, Newnham, Keyes, Tanner, Boulter, A Smith, Brown, Evans, Lynch. Replacements: Ridley, Raunigger, Williams.

 

Six Nations and Lions round-up

Congratulations to England on their Six Nations win. Congratulations to Ireland on preventing the Grand Slam/record run of wins. Congratulations to France and Scotland on now each having a decent team. O’Pinion got quite a few match predictions wrong, but looking back at his pre-tournament post, he actually got the finishing positions of each nation correct! Just as well the bookies don’t offer odds on such an outcome.

Your columnist also hazarded a guess at the Lions Test XV pre-Six Nations, which of course now needs updating. So here we go:

15 Hogg

14 North

13 Still very hard to call – going for Huw Jones

12 Farrell

11 Tricky – Liam Williams maybe? A lot of English options here too

10 Sexton

9 Murray

1 M Vunipola

2 Owens

3 Furlong

4 Itoje (but needs to give away fewer penalties)

5 AW Jones (if not fit, how about Launchbury?)

6 Stander (or O’Mahony)

7 Warburton (capt.)

8 B Vunipola

 

Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts, Rangers!

An Alternative View of IWRFC with O’Pinion – Sun. 26 March 2017

An Alternative View of IWRFC – by O’Pinion                                     Sun. 26 March 2017

So the Six Nations is over for another year. O’Pinion thoroughly enjoyed Ireland’s win over England in the tournament finale, and frankly has only just sobered up, though events on the field weren’t the only Irish victory that weekend. Yes, your columnist went shot for shot in a Dublin nightclub with English no.8 Billy Vunipola and won, then managed to avoid the paparazzi while Big Billy was pictured a little ‘worse for wear.’ A good sport, all the same. (See the end of this week’s column for O’Pinion’s updated Lions Test XV.)

Most importantly, IWRFC hosted Ventnor at the Rec and secured their third win from four local derbies this season. It was a good day up the club with a well attended VPs’ lunch and plenty of ‘well-oiled’ spectators, keen to offer the players and the referee the benefits of their wisdom. The game itself sometimes sparked into life, even if it was often a scrappy, stop-start affair.

A very strong wind played its part in limiting the fayre on show, making accurate passing a challenge for both sides. For IW who dominated possession and looked more dangerous, it was particularly disruptive, though the Rangers did not always help themselves with a few too many 50-50 passes and fumbles. It was also noteworthy that both teams arguably played better into the wind, rather than with it at their backs.

IW played into that gale first half, and after an uneventful first few minutes, an interception pass was gleefully run in by Ventnor for the opening score. To the boys’ credit, there was no panic and they quickly recovered to force the pace from then on. There was an issue with slow support play and good work by the opposition at the breakdown at times, preventing continuity. However, when IW got it right, there were some dazzling passages of play, one such leading to the fearsome sight of Smudge handing off an opponent on the 22 before cantering over to level the scores. Another great score followed soon after, finished by captain Dan Stirrup (I think), so IW led 10-5 at half-time, with the wind to follow.

The opening minutes of the second half saw aggressive defence lead to territory, and Owen cut a great line to score under the posts, Lewis converting. At this point, it seemed likely that we would pull away, score the bonus point try and possibly rack up quite a margin. This did not happen. Maybe it was dogged play by Ventnor, of which there was plenty. Maybe the Rangers slackened off, but I don’t think so. Certainly some of the referee’s decisions did not find favour with the home side, who grew frustrated as they were repeatedly penalised, often at the breakdown.

Ventnor’s persistence was rewarded as they established some field position of their own in the closing minutes and battered at the IW defence, which held firm and cleared their lines. However, the play was called back and Ventnor did score their try, remarkably now only seven points behind. IW roused themselves and laid siege to the Ventnor 22, eventually securing the four-try bonus with the last play. Fittingly, it was outstanding skipper Stirrup who finished the scoring.

So, not a great display, though in fairness there was no shortage of effort and heart from the Rangers, and winning while playing a bit below par is never a bad sign. Sixth place is now almost certainly the lowest we’ll finish this season – securing fifth depends on winning our last two games, away to Heathens and home to Romsey. Achievable but not easy. It’s been a good season – let’s have a fitting finale, boys. Rangers! Rugby!

IW: Herbert, Webster, Stirrup ©, Wood, Toms, Murray, Augustus, Newnham, Keyes, Tanner, Boulter, A Smith, Brown, Evans, Lynch. Replacements: Ridley, Raunigger, Williams.

Six Nations and Lions round-up

Congratulations to England on their Six Nations win. Congratulations to Ireland on preventing the Grand Slam/record run of wins. Congratulations to France and Scotland on now each having a decent team. O’Pinion got quite a few match predictions wrong, but looking back at his pre-tournament post, he actually got the finishing positions of each nation correct! Just as well the bookies don’t offer odds on such an outcome.

Your columnist also hazarded a guess at the Lions Test XV pre-Six Nations, which of course now needs updating. So here we go:

15 Hogg

14 North

13 Still very hard to call – going for Huw Jones

12 Farrell

11 Tricky – Liam Williams maybe? A lot of English options here too

10 Sexton

9 Murray

1 M Vunipola

2 Owens

3 Furlong

4 Itoje (but needs to give away fewer penalties)

5 AW Jones (if not fit, how about Launchbury?)

6 Stander (or O’Mahony)

7 Warburton (capt.)

8 B Vunipola

 

Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts, Rangers!