High-flying Upper Eden need to develop a third team
THIS year proved a real success story for Upper Eden Rugby Club, with the first team being promoted from the Cumbria League and being names Cumbrian team of the year, and the second XV winning the Westmorland Cup.
The club’s annual meeting also heard that such is interest at the club at the moment that they need to set up a third/veterans’ team to ensure players get a game every week.
For the Westmorland Cup final, in which the Boars defeated Windermere 37-0, there were eight players on the subs’ bench which, chairman of rugby Mike Robinson said in his report to the meeting, was very encouraging, but a veterans’/third team needed to be developed.
He said that lady luck had shone on the first team to a degree. Victory in just one of two narrow defeats by Netherhall and Windermere would have seen them take the Cumbria League title, but in the event they finished third, meaning that in normal circumstances they would have missed out on promotion, but they gratefully accepted the league’s offer to replace Netherhall in the play-offs as the Maryport side declined promotion. Eden went on to beat Didsbury in the play-off final.
Mr. Robinson paid tribute to the hard work of coach Kerry Hurst and said match statistics spoke for themselves. The first team played a total of 12 home games and lost only one. Away from home, they played 13, won nine and lost four. The team went unbeaten from 30th November a “fantastic achievement” said Mr. Robinson.
Top try scorers were Phil Hughes, with 16; Richard Cullen, 14; Phil Sinclair, 12; and Ben Leathes and Mark Shuttleworth, 11. Rich Heron topped the scoring with 213 points. First XV player of the year was skipper Karl Haygarth.
A total of 37 players were used throughout the season. Simon Alderson made 24 appearances, followed by Paul Brown, Phil Sinclair, Mark Shuttleworth and Karl Haygarth with 23.
Tony Morland broke his leg against Carnforth, but Mr. Robinson said he had not given up hope that he might return for one more season. Ben Leathes is moving to pastures new with the police force.
Player of the season for the Boars, captained by Ivor Allonby, was Johnny Drummond, while top try scorer was Gavin Sissons, with 22, and top scorer was Mike Hughes, with 201 points.
This year saw Upper Eden’s first player exchange with Zuks Mazwi coming to Pennine Park from the Natal Sharks and leaving a big impression. The Sharks are giving an opportunity to young black players to travel and improve their life skills.
Mr. Robinson said he had received a letter from Zuks’s father thanking everybody at the club and those who looked after his son.
The exchange has now opened the door for Simon Alderson, who wil go to Natal Sharks this summer for what should be a memorable experience.
“It is the intention of the rugby committee to continue this arrangement and we will soon be advising Natal Sharks what players we need for next season!” said Mr. Robinson.
Upper Eden’s women’s team had another successful season, but were let down by other clubs who cancelled at the last minute. This season, however, they will be joining the north east leagues. Their captain and player of the year was Kaye Johnstone.
The meeting heard that in the junior section, there were a hard core of trainers who would develop and become good club players at senior level. However, a structure needs to be put in place to nurture this talent. Regular games and tournaments need to be organised so that players have something to focus on.
This season the club has developed a good relationship with Carlisle club Creighton and intends to continue that next season, but also hopes to tie in with clubs against whom the senior teams play friendly matches.
More help is needed to develop youth rugby and if anybody is interested in helping Archie Spence, they should come forward as he needs assistance both on and off the pitch.