Weston chairman Land looking ever forwards during current pandemic
PUBLISHED: 10:00 08 May 2020
Weston Rugby Club chairman Peter Land has written a guest column for the Mercury to share his thoughts about the sport in the town and his own background.
He writes: I feel I should be writing to say how much I am looking forward to what could be a glorious sporting calendar, crammed with catch-up events, meetings of old foes, friendly rivalries and the occasional Saturday with one too many Thatchers on board, sunshine, wind and rain all during 80 minutes.
But as I live in a seaside town, I feel a water borne analogy should follow Weston RFC, which is like a parent with an inflatable dinghy looking out from the beach waiting for calmer season. To launch in the hope that it will be okay will be wholly irresponsible; so, we will wait, stay at home, save lives and protect the NHS’.
If there is a time to play rugby then we will be grateful, my own view is that we only play when the time is right and that will be when it is safe for players, members, supporters and families.
If this means that we do not play South West Premier Rugby next season, so be it. We are surrounded by good local sides we could easily arrange fixtures during the week and at weekends.
A fallow season may prove beneficial to some sides wanting to consolidate their position.
If I was a casual reader I would want to know who we are and what we have, because we are a club consisting of many sides from all backgrounds and genders, situated in the heart of Weston, formed in 1875 and the first club in the country to field an age group in what is now known as mini-rugby.
In fact, the forthcoming season will their 50th season of rugby. Our ground was the first in the British Isles to witness ‘The Haka’ being performed when it hosted the New Zealand Maoris who were the forerunners of todays All Blacks.
I also missed possibly the club’s greatest game on Saturday January 26, 1980 when the club played what was then a mighty London Welsh side.
I did see what I still think is the most entertaining match in recent years at the club when we lost the Somerset Cup Final in extra-time to our neighbours in 2015. Two sets of players, many of whom were friends, kept rival supporters, who were also neighbours, entertained for 110 minutes.
This season, another defeat sticks in my mind. Barnstaple might have been a defeat but for the actions of a few and a little bit of luck a life might have been lost when one member collapsed with a heart attack. Those individuals will rightly receive Royal Humane Society Awards for their actions that day.
Although my links with Weston are familial – my dad was born here, and my grandmother was a teacher at the original Worle School – I’m neither a true Westonian or in fact a real rugby player. I dabbled with the game but played soccer as Jack Russell keeps calling it!
I must remind him it was only because William Webb-Ellis ran off with some kid’s football that anyone plays rugby at all!
These days, that might be regarded as theft not the invention of a new sport.
In these regards I lack that long association with our club and know nothing about fixtures against London Welsh, London Saracens, Bath, Bristol and the like. I have no idea how great Robbie Hazzard was or what it was like to play alongside Barry Sparks, George Sparks, Jon Bamsey or Alan Bradley.
Their reputations precede the men themselves. The fact is they are still here in person or in Robbie’s case, a memory. This does prompt a mental note that his gates need sandblasting and restoring to their former glory.
Being involved in a club with history is great but it brings with it risk, you don’t drive a car looking through the rear view mirror, and for those of you that do use your rear view mirrors you know that you can be blinded and distances are hard to judge.
Whilst I congratulate Barnstaple for their deserved promotion, I’m not sure I envy them. The constitution of that league appears a huge step-up in terms of commitment for clubs, players and supporters without a pro-rata level of support being provided.
I would’ve loved to have been involved in a play-off and promotion but being competitive as well as coping with the financial burden could have done more harm than good.
I am genuinely delighted for Weston Hornets, to find a town with two clubs like ours, add up the number of boys and girls playing the game, we must be one of the strongest rugby communities in the South West.
I hope we can get together this season, even if not in the format that we expected. There is no doubt it will not be any less competitive. Nobody ever knows what lies in the future, just for once even certain uncertainty appears uncertain, but I do know time will move ‘Ever Forward’.
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