‘There was cheap Prosecco being squirted all over the place’
Tunbridge Wells Rugby Football Club is heading to Twickenham for the ‘biggest game in the club’s history’.
They beat rivals Matson on Saturday, in front of a home crowd of more than 1,000 spectators at the St Mark’s Recreation Ground, during a close fought semi-final of the Intermediary Cup.
Tunbridge Wells ran out 29-15 winners. The victory means the team will now be playing at Twickenham Stadium, the home of England rugby, in the finals of the Cup for the first time in their history.
In beating the Gloucestershire-based Matson, Tunbridge Wells secured their 26th consecutive victory in what has so far proved to be an undefeated season for the 1st XV squad.
The Cup final on May 7 will be against St Benedicts, and is being touted as ‘the biggest game in the club’s history’. They embarked on the tournament back in October when they played Portsmouth.
However, triumph on Saturday was far from a certainty, with Tunbridge Wells squandering their early lead to be 15-15 with just 20 minutes left of the match.
Although well regarded for their strong defensive play, Matson, who were also undefeated before Saturday, were unable to prevent Mike Thompson scoring a try under the posts.
And victory was all but assured once Lee Campion, a former Tonbridge Juddians player, scored his second try of the day with just minutes to spare.
Roger Clarke, President of Tunbridge Wells RFC, spoke of his pride in the squad following the ‘thrilling’ day of rugby.
He said: “I am hugely proud of the team. They showed the great discipline and good concentration they have displayed all season.
“Following the dream start, when we were 15-0 up, despite a disallowed try by us, Matson remained very well organised and closed the gap until we were level.
“But the team stayed calm, got the ball wide and broke through for the final two tries.”
After a pitch invasion by ecstatic fans, which Mr Clarke said is a ‘common occurrence’, fans and players made their way to the clubhouse, where the celebrating did not stop until around 11pm.
Mr Clarke added: “Everyone was having a good time. And there was cheap Prosecco being squirted all over the place.”
Tunbridge Wells RFC was officially formed as Old Skinners’ RFC in 1931, a rugby union club for former pupils of The Skinners’ School.
In addition to the 1st XV the club regularly fields three other adult sides competing in various Kent RFU league competitions.
WHAT IS THE INTERMEDIARY CUP?
THE Intermediary Cup is a knockout tournament lasting six games and fought on a regional basis until the semi-finals.
Although separate from the league, where Tunbridge Wells plays at level 7 in the South East and London, teams competing in the cup do so within the same geographical boundaries.
Hence Tunbridge Wells was representing the South East and London on Saturday while Matson represented the South West.
At Twickenham, the squad will be playing to be national champions against Northern division team St Benedicts RUFC.