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That Friday Feeling – 17th February 2023

In a week where the present turmoil in the Premiership and in International rugby has bubbled up again, it somehow seems fitting that this weekend Caldy should be playing Richmond FC in a Championship Cup clash.

On 15th February, it was confirmed that the insolvent Premiership side Worcester Warriors will not be allowed into next season’s Championship, but a phoenix from former Premiership Wasps will be able to start its rugby journey at Championship level 2 rather than from level 10 at the bottom of the rugby pyramid.

In 1996, Richmond FC founded in 1861 was bankrolled by financier Ashley Levett to become the first fully professional club in England. A host of big-name players including Scott Quinell and the world’s first £1 million player Ben Clarke, provided excitement on the pitch, but unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to attract sufficient spectators to be commercially viable. At that time, professional rugby was not matched by the reality of the business model, and in 1999 Ashley Levett placed Richmond FC into Administration.

In the year 2000, a reformed Richmond FC were required to start again, at the bottom of the rugby pyramid. For the next 10 years, Richmond FC fought their way back up through the leagues and in 2011, they played Caldy in a playoff match at the Richmond Athletic Ground. By the narrowest of margins, Richmond prevailed and took their place in National 1 and subsequently were promoted to the Championship in the 2015/6 season.

Tomorrow it will be interesting to understand the views from Richmond FC’s supporters to a phoenix from Wasps taking a place in next year’s Championship without having the ten-year journey that Richmond FC undertook. It may become evident that Richmond FC’s journey from 2000 to 2011 was the most enjoyable in their history!

Head Coach Matt Cairns has picked the following squad for tomorrow’s Championship Cup match against Richmond FC at Paton Field with a 2 pm kick-off time :

1. Aigbokhae 2. Hearn 3. Rushton 4. Dickinson 5. Sanders 6. Birch 7. Davidson 8. Dickinson 9. Thomas 10. Hayes 11. Cartmill  12. Barlow 13. Bibby 14. Royle 15. Gourlay 16. Sanderson 17. Stagg 18. Darlington 19. Gerrard 20. Crowe 21. Ainscough 22. Barker 23.Beer


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