Community Rugby alive and well at Dry Leas

The concept of “Rugby for all” at Henley Rugby club is full speed ahead as the new season approaches, and the club is keen to welcome any new players who want to give social rugby a try, or pull their boots back on after a few years away!

Whilst the major focus is inevitably on the Hawks and Bulls squads, as well as the thriving Women’s team and the Kids First and Junior sections, the club is putting increased resource behind its social teams this season.

Both the Vikings, the 3rd team who will play in Berks Bucks and Oxon 2 (BBO2) North this season, and the Vultures, the well-established over 35 team, will be overseen by former Director of Rugby and Hawks Captain Rob Heginbotham, and Hawks Legend and also former Captain Mark Venner will help with training and on-field organisation. Club stalwarts Howard Saward and David Lewis, the former chairman of the Henley Wanderers club, will also be closely involved on match days.

Head of Playing administration Aubrey Doran is very pleased to have got such an experienced group together to run the community side of the club this season.

“We have had a couple of difficult seasons with our Vikings side, but as part of our five year plan which was launched at the start of 2019, the club has decided very clearly that community rugby is a crucial part of our Rugby offer at the club, and so we are putting additional resource behind them this year.

This extends not just to the people who are managing this area of the club, but also additional funding that is being made available from the tremendous support of the recently formed Ambassador club. The club motto is now “Henley as One” or “#HAO”, which was actually evented by the Hawks last season, but has now been adopted by the whole club.

There are a number of key differences to the last couple of years in how the Vikings will operate this year, as Rob Heginbotham explained.

“Ensuring that the Vikings play in a league more appropriate to our anticipated playing resources was essential, since we have been asking essentially community players who might not want to play and train every week to turn out at too high a level in recent seasons. We would be delighted to return to BBO1 in due course if our playing resources allow, but the most important thing is to get a regular stable Vikings side turning out 22 times this season”.

The Vultures season has also been re-aligned to avoid what was a nightmare fixture pile-up at the end of last season which resulted in a horrific injury list and cancellation of games. The Vultures will play in both the Surrey Vest League at the weekends, and mid-week Oxfordshire Vets Cup.

An exciting new initiative is an end of season community tour for the Vikings and Vultures, and those younger players (under 35) who play regularly for the Vikings will receive a subsidy to go on this.

“The Rugby tour is a key part of a social / community ruby season, and whilst the Vultures have toured regularly in recent, years, we have not had a community / social tour for many years. They play a vital role in building team spirit and camaraderie” said Rob, himself an experienced tourist.

“We hope that we have put together the most exciting community rugby package in the Thames Valley for players young and old – so the message is that all are welcome at Dry Leas and there will be plenty of rugby and fun to be had this season with both the Vikings and Vultures. Please come and join us”. 

Any players interested in social  / community rugby should contact the club on 01491 574499 or email rob@theheggers.com