Title in sight as Vikings secure crucial home win against Newbury

The Henley Vikings took a huge step towards winning the BBO2 league on Saturday, 11th March with a hard fought 22-11 win over fellow title contenders Newbury IIs at Dry Leas. Three tries from Hooker Callum Cooke, two conversions and a Penalty from fly-half Danny Hawkins were enough to see the Vikings home and deny Newbury a losing bonus point.

The result means that Henley top the BBO2 table with 74 points leaving Newbury just behind on 73 with two matches to play.

The sides had already met once earlier in the season, Newbury prevailing 13-8 in a highly committed and physical game. With both teams having already secured promotion into BBO 1 for next season they each knew that the winner of this return fixture would almost certainly go on to win the League.

Newbury had the best of the opening exchanges and took a deserved 3-0 lead after a penalty kick. But Henley quickly responded with two tries from Callum Cooke, deputising at hooker for injured skipper Owyn Thatcher, each set up by clean breaks from Toby Venner and Elliott Quelch respectively. The second of these tries was converted by Hawkins, to give Henley a 12-3 lead midway through the first half. Newbury responded with a Try from a driving maul to close the gap to the hosts leaving the half time score 12-8.

The anti was upped further by Newbury at the start of second half. A good spell of continued pressure resulted in another successful penalty kick reducing the hosts lead to 12-11. But a combination of handling errors from the away side and committed Henley defence meant that these would be the last points Newbury would score.

The game was settled during a 10 minute spell midway through the second half. Typically choosing to go off the top from the lineout to give ball to their backs, the Henley packed broke with this convention and engineered a third try for Cooke after a superb 15 metre driving maul from a lineout. This decisive score was converted by Hawkins and he added another 3 points soon after from a penalty kick to extend the lead to 22-11.

The Vikings defence, led by skipper Andy Unsworth, was resolute throughout the final 10 minutes Preventing Newbury from any further scores thus denying them a losing bonus point. The full time whistle was greeted with cheers of delight from the Henley players and sizable crowd which had gathered, all of whom agreed that this was a thoroughly committed and enjoyable game to witness.

With two home games remaining against the bottom two teams in the League, two bonus point wins will secure the Henley Vikings a richly deserved league title.


Cooke x 3


Hawkins x 2



Team: 15 Ben Wiltshire, 14 Jake Jordan, 13 Lewes Collins, 12 Elliott Quelch, 11 Olly Vine, 10 Danny Hawkins, 9 Toby Venner, 8 Dan Folley, 7 Chris Parrott, 6 Craig Johnston, 5 James Thomas, 4 Andy Unsworth ©, 3 James Owen, 2 Callum Cooke, 1 Charlie Chavasse. Subs: 16 Mo Bangura, 17 Simon Annan, 18 Ben Richard

Match photos courtesy of Steve Karpa

The Way Ahead

The great work over a number of years sees the clubhouse development edging closer to completion. I am reliably informed that we are well on target for the official opening on Saturday 10 September when we meet Chinnor RFC in our opening home fixture of the 2016/2017 National Two South campaign.

The clubhouse provides the backdrop to the great enthusiasm shown by members of the Hawks, Bulls, Vikings and Women who have already started pre-season training.

We have retained a high percentage of our squad from last season and have made a number of new additions as you will see from Nigel’s update. The opening match of the season will be down in Cornwall at Redruth on Saturday 3 September, so why not take a short holiday down in the West Country and get behind the Hawks.

We are currently awaiting the fixtures for the Henley Bulls. These will be available once Premiership and Championship fixtures are confirmed.

The Vikings have a new Head Coach in Chris Parrott who will be supported by Murray Hughes, Matt Mann and Sam Quelch. The Vikings will commence there 2016/2017 season at Windsor RFC on Saturday 10 September in Berks, Bucks & Oxon League Division Two.

Ali Mortimore after eighteen years’ service with the Club will take up a coaching role with Harlequins RFC within the Women’s section. Therefore, I welcome  RFU qualified coaches in Mark Peris and Chris Skaife to coaching roles, Karen Peris, Team Manager and Aisling Byrne as Physiotherapist. The Women’s XV will continue in the RFU Championship South for 2016/2017 season.

Further details will be released on Bears, Vultures and Colts shortly.

The Club is currently working with the RFU, Oxfordshire RFU and Henley College to help recruit and retain players throughout the age range 16 – 24. A key area to grow our talent for the future and ensure individuals continue to play rugby. 

Henley College will continue to use Dry Leas for both training sessions and matches within the ASSE Leagues, well worth watching on a Wednesday afternoon or evening. The Club is very grateful for the support and assistance of the College and to the support from Jack Wiggins the Rugby Academy Manager.

The Club has received confirmation from the RFU that our RFU Accredited Club status has been retained. However, we have further work to undertake as part of our three and five year plans agreed with the RFU. This relates to updating the RFU Game management System (GMS) and DBS records to ensure integrity with our safeguarding arrangements alongside plans to grow Women’s Rugby and retention of players within the game.

Work continues with both the RFU and Oxfordshire RFU to ensure we secure an appropriate grant and loan towards the continued development at Dry Leas with the addition of the following:

·       Two changing rooms

·       Medical room

·       Match officials changing room

·       Kit store

·       Club Shop

It is planned to commence work on the next phase in April 2017. If you are able to assist with support to this project then I will be really pleased to hear from you as I wish to ensure we continuethe momentum we have in improving all the facilities at Dry Leas.

I would appreciate you support with the RFU Core Values which Henley RFC fully supports as follows:

Everyone involved in rugby in England, whether as a player, coach, referee, administrator, parent or spectator is expected to uphold the Core Values of our sport.

Teamwork – Respect – Enjoyment – Discipline - Sportsmanship

·       Play to win – but not at all costs

·       Win with dignity – lose with grace

·       Observe the Laws and regulations of the game

·       Respect opponents, referees and all participants

·       Reject cheating, racism, violence and drugs

·       Value volunteers and paid officials alike

Enjoy the game

Looking forward to an enjoyable season.

Aubrey Doran

Director of Rugby Administration