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That Friday Feeling – 28th October 2022

Caldy Welcome Mighty Coventry!

Last week saw Caldy visit Ampthill – another aspirational club if you follow the Championship Podcast – and we came away with 2 bonus points. But that doesn’t tell the whole story.

After a tremendous half when we dominated play and were 24 – 7 up, and Paul Turner, the Ampthill DOR said it could have been 35 – 7 or 38 – 7, the second half saw Ampthill come back into the game to pip us 26 – 24. Great play and it shows that we are more than competitive against a team that has been in the Championship for 5 years.

Fine margins seem to determine results, but the spirit, organisation and skill of our boys now mean we are disappointed not to be winning games against top Championship sides. What a journey it is, and our lads now must be beginning to believe that they deserve to be in the top 25 clubs in the country on merit and they can fancy their chances against the “professional” sides.

As an aside, it was great to visit Ampthill. Lovely people and a real rugby club, and there must always be room in rugby for clubs to aspire and achieve what they have done for the last 5 years, and we are doing now. Rugby, like so much in life, is about people achieving the best they possibly can, and clubs should be allowed to aspire and achieve and by doing so inspire others. It is what makes sport exciting, and I am proud that our local rugby club, with local rugby players, has the 3rd highest attendance in the Championship.

Tomorrow, we see the visit of Coventry. The once mighty Coventry was a force to be reckoned with in the past. Stellar past players that included David Duckham, the great winger who played on the famous 1971 Lions tour, and their Director Peter Rossborough, who won 7 caps as a fullback for England and had also had success with England 7’s both as a player and manager. A great history and in the years preceding leagues they were one the strongest teams in the country. We welcome Coventry to Caldy tomorrow and, also, our past player Lucas Titherington, who is sure of a warm welcome on his return after leaving Caldy to join Coventry in the summer.

The match against Coventry is sponsored by the one and only Richard Williams. A legend of Caldy and far, far wider. There are still people around the world who went to the 2003 World Cup who are relating experiences of having met Mad Dick Willy. I asked friends for stories about Richard and although several were hilarious and all showed Richard in a great light, I am not sure they can be published for legal reasons. What I can say is that Richard has a massive heart, a great love for all things Caldy and a liver that must be in the top 0.0001% in the country.  Genuinely a legend and happy 74th Birthday, Richard!

Head Coach Matt Cairns and his selectors have picked the following to play against Coventry.

3pm KO at Paton Fields

Adan Aigbokhae, Ollie Hearns, Andy Darlington, Sam Dickinson, Tom Sanders, Calum Ridgway, JJ Dickinson, Martin Gerrard, Chris Pilgrim, Ezra Hinchcliffe, Ben Jones, Mike Barlow, Dan Bibby, Nick Royle, Eliot Gourlay. Finishers: Ethan Caine, Nathan Rushton, Ryan Higginson, Harrison Crowe, Tom Parry, Nye Thomas, Louis Beer and Rhys Hayes

The 2ND Team play Lymm at Paton Fields with a 3pm KO.


Joe Sanders, Johnson Chandigere, Tom Clarke, Sam Olyott, Nathan Ovien, Nyle Davidson, Robin Lowndes, Ryen Spencer – Wolfe, Joe Murray, Liam Isaacs, Toby Elkerton, Lewis Barker, Josh Walters, Lexi Mourakach, Alex White. Finshers: Matt Deehan, Tom Williams, Jaco Oosthuysen, James Holmmes, Alex Gaughan, Max Jones

After a great win under the lights, last Friday against Wirral, Caldy 2nd XV will be looking to keep their winning run going. If you are coming to the game in a car, please park on our grounds to avoid causing inconvenience to our neighbours.

With the recent news that Worcester and Wasps have gone into administration, several thoughts come to mind. The first is what a shame for all those connected with both clubs, and we wish everyone affected well and hope both clubs reappear next season and we get the chance to play against them in the Championship.

The second is how could rugby clubs get into such a financial mess, and has the very structure of the Premiership and relationship with the RFU caused it?

My final thought goes back to the letter I saw in The Times probably 30 years ago: a Japanese reader had written in, and he said that in Japan on a ship the Purser counted the money and the Captain decided where the ship should go. In the UK, he wrote, the Purser counted the money, and he then told the Captain where to sail. He said this was the difference between the UK and Japan business – and I inferred it meant that money men with little knowledge of their industry made decisions to make a short – term profit rather than planning for long term success. Sadly, it seems to the author of this newsletter that the Japanese letter writer was correct. Short term gain rather than long term strategy seems the way we now operate in many areas of life – and the failure of Wasps and Worcester seems to be a product of it for rugby.

A great shame, but whilst the RFU must take a degree of blame for having little or no governance and having reduced funding elsewhere to spend money on the Premiership (amazingly, they called giving over £400 million to Premiership clubs over 15 years an investment – when it most likely caused wage inflation with no clear return) the problem is a wider one. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts by the RFU and Premiership clubs, club rugby is currently a niche sport and does not get the attendances or television viewers to justify the amount being spent at the elite level. And, as we all now know from only recently, borrowing money to meet operating costs will result in misery whether you are the Government or a business if circumstances beyond your control change. How World Rugby and the RFU grow the appeal of rugby to the wider public is a considerable challenge.

Hopefully the RFU, in collaboration with not just the elite clubs but the wider rugby fraternity, will find a way forward that will benefit all English rugby, and is financially sustainable. A difficult challenge as it is always easier pointing out what is wrong than finding solutions and we will all need to put aside our vested interests, and support for what benefits our own clubs, for the way forward to be successful.

Perhaps it is better for us state what Caldy is about and the principles and values that drive us. We want to remain a community club with strong mini and youth sections and thriving girls and touch sections; we do not want to be a one team club and we want to develop our own young players, and those in our geographical locality, to be the best they can be.

All our players have other jobs and careers, or are students, and are not solely dependent on rugby financially and as such play rugby as a sport. We are not dependent on only one sponsor and don’t want to be, and we don’t spend money that we don’t have and therefore have no debts and have no plans to take any on. We have improved our facilities for spectators and wish to replace our ageing clubhouse – but being on Green Belt, with the land held in trust by the National Trust and requiring Planning Permission, it is not something that happens quickly. Most of all we want our rugby club to be sustainable for the long term where players achieve the best they can at all levels, and all can enjoy themselves.

Other clubs have different models, and we not only recognise and respect those clubs but enjoy challenging and playing against them. There is no one size fits all in rugby and we shall continue to aspire to be the best we can be without fundamentally changing what we are. Hopefully, there will remain a place in the higher echelons of rugby for clubs that aspire but don’t want to go down the full-time professional route and for reasons beyond their control, are unable to build a stand. With success down to achievement rather than meeting a list of criteria that could potentially cause a closed shop unless debt is taken on. It is what makes sport exciting and attracts crowds and interest – playing the best teams regardless of everything else. We will wait and see, and fingers crossed that English rugby comes out of this stronger and with a more stable financial base.

Enjoy the rugby tomorrow, and for Caldy, it is about enjoying the experience of playing against a fine, old rugby club like Coventry and I am sure it will be a cracker of a game with Coventry in very good form at present.

Finally, why not join our Caldy Breakfast Business Club. A great chance to network with over 60 local businesses, great speakers and all will have Caldy Rugby in common. Support Caldy!

For more details contact Leonie at

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