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That Friday Feeling – 19th January 2024

Last week Caldy travelled to the capital to play league leaders Ealing Trailfinders on their all-weather pitch. Ealing had their strongest squad available, full of players with Premiership and International experience. Keeping the score respectable would have been an achievement, for the Ravers to pick up a 4 try bonus point on the road was beyond expectations.

Arriving late due to train issues, a somewhat underpowered Caldy squad, missing a clutch of senior players, were 21 points down after only 15 minutes. But how they rallied! After just about surviving the initial Ealing onslaught, Caldy found a foothold in the game with two first half tries by Mike Cartmill and Ollie Hearn. Emptying the bench for the final 15 minutes secured the crucial bonus point with tries by Joe Murray and Matt Gallagher picking up another so valuable Championship point.

Tomorrow the Ravers are going to play only their fourth home Championship match of the season at Paton Field against a strong Hartpury side.

The visitors from Gloucester sit one place and one point above Caldy in the Championship table with very similar playing records. They are exceptionally good travellers. Strong performances on the road, including two thumping bonus point away wins against Coventry and Cambridge, have seen Hartpury pick up 12 points from their 5 away fixtures.

Caldy’s Director of Rugby Gareth Davies knows just how vital Caldy’s home support will be against the West Country outfit. “There is no doubt that the noisy and passionate support from the ‘Bank’ got us over the line in our last home game, the pre-Christmas win over a full time Doncaster Knights side. It was special. A home crowd lifts any team, but our crowd iseven more important for Caldy. We are always the underdogs in every Championship fixture and tomorrow is no exception. We have never beaten Hartpury and for sure we will need everything the Bank can give us.”

Tomorrow’s game against Hartpury will be the featured match in Sunday’s Rugby Paper with pictures being taken by Caldy’s Kieran Free. Please do give Kieran a crowded and vibrant ‘Bank’ for his backdrop.

This week there is no game for Caldy’s 2nd xv. Last week a much-reshuffled 2nd xv side picked up an away win at Macclesfield to keep their long unbeaten run going. But it was oh so close. An exciting contest saw the lead frequently change and with only a minute or so to go the young Ravers were 20-19 down. Up stepped Freddie Arista to kick a tricky penalty to close out the win 20-22. The unbeaten run now stretches to eighty-seven games.

Finally, after this week’s shock news that Gloucester’s Louis Rees-Zammit, Northampton’s Harry Mallinder and Coventry’s George Smith have all quit Rugby Union to join the NFL’s International Player Pathway, Caldy’s Head Coach Matt Cairns is delighted to confirm that for the time being Caldy’s Nick Royle has decided to remain at Paton Field.

Matt Cairns has selected the following squad for Saturday’s 1st XV Championship fixture against Hartpury at Paton Field. The match kicks off at the early time of 2 pm.

  1. A Aigbokhae
  2. O Hearn
  3. J Sproston
  4. M Gerrard.
  5. S Dickinson
  6. E Murphy
  7. C Booth
  8. JJ Dickinson
  9. C Pilgrim
  10. R Hayes
  11. B Jones
  12. M Barlow
  13. C Wilkinson
  14. N Royle
  15. M Kilcourse
  16. M Gallagher
  17. R Higginson
  18. N Rushton
  19. S Olyott
  20. C Ridgway
  21. J Murray
  22. M Cartmill
  23. L Barker

Sporting Lunch Co-ordinator  
Over the past few seasons, we have successfully run a number of sporting lunches, and this have created a major source of income for the club. However, after the retirement of Bob Cooke, who did an outstanding job, we need to replace him. We are looking for someone to take on the role of organising an event which will be held on Friday 10th May. The large marquee and facilities will be in place for Past Players event the following day.
The person taking on the role will not be starting from scratch as Bob has provided an extensive booklet/ template for the organisation of the event, and there are people who will be there to assist. This includes  a list of sponsors and other contacts.

  • Emma Analay – Bar Manager and help with sourcing speakers
  • John Wylie – Facilities, Kitchen, Tables and Marquee Hire.
  • James Smethurst – Social media and website

The Co- Ordinator will need to

  • Source speakers
  • Contact people to book tables (maximum seating in Marquee 27 tables)
  • Arrange to print publicity flyers – and get into local shops and other local clubs.
  • Source Auction prizes (we have lists of people who have given in the past)
  • Pass on names for invoices to be paid.

If you are interested, please contact Mark Loughran 07858 779285, John Wylie 07845 228564 or Tim Kilpatrick 07768 022412.
Your help will be greatly appreciated and will continue to secure the future of the club.

Jess Baker Memorial Rugby Tournament 

On Monday 15th January Caldy RFC opened it’s doors for a Memorial Rugby Tournament in memory of WKGS student Jess Baker who tragically died in September. Kim Higham, as Jess’ Head of Year and PE teacher co-ordinated the event as was joined by 14 schools from Wirral, Chester and Wigan.
The morning activities were a carousel of rugby based skills that allowed the girls to gain some experience in playing rugby as some had never taken part before. With the help of coaches from Sale Sharks, Caldy and Birkenhead Park we were able to offer six carousel stations with an average of 25 girls on each station at a time. This event also allowed Caldy and WKGS sixth form leaders to shine and showcase their rugby knowledge, leading on the carousel with the other coaches.
The event covered 3 pitches at the rugby club which proved to be a fantastic sight for spectators and passers-by, seeing just how many girls were involved. In the afternoon all schools took part in a Tag Rugby tournament as this proved most fitting as Jess was a frequent member of our school Tag Rugby club. The tournament ran in 4 group stages across 4 pitches, with 5 teams in each group – the winner of each group then progressed to the semi-final and then Final. Overall, we had more than 160 girls in attendance and all of them got stuck in despite the chilly morning conditions showing the spirit that Jess most certainly had.
The afternoon tournament ran smoothly with all teams growing in confidence with their knowledge of the rules and their teamwork, we had lots of fantastic feedback from teachers at the event saying that their girls now wanted to take up rugby and find a club which is fantastic and helps us to raise the profile of Girls’ Rugby. We also had an international player appearance from Eti Haungatau, current Sale Sharks and USA squad member – who spoke to lots of the girls and gave encouragement throughout the tournament.
Jess’ parents came to show their support for the event and gave lots of kind words about just how many girls had turned out to participate in her memory. At the end of the day, all schools went away with JB Memorial Event certificates and trophies were awarded to 3 students for ‘Top try-scorer of the day’, ‘Coaches Player’ and ‘The JB Spirit Award’. The overall tournament winners were Christleton High School who narrowly beat WKGS 1 in the Final 4-3, a fitting end to the day.
Caldy RFC were fantastic hosts on the day, allowing us to run a tuck shop and hot drinks station inside the clubhouse, and allowing use of the outside marquee so all the girls could keep warm throughout the day. Staff were there to support with the set up and clearing of the equipment which helped the event run smoothly, and lots of girls went away with leaflets for joining the rugby club.
Overall, the day was a huge success and truly allowed us to celebrate Jess’ life with something she loved and having nearly 200 people at the club on this day was an overwhelming response, showing how sport can bring people together.

Head of Year 11, Teacher of Physical Education, West Kirby Grammar School

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