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Five promotions in six seasons – the Reeds Weybridge RFC blueprint

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Billy Maddock

To the casual observer Reeds Weybridge RFC looks like just another amateur rugby club operating in leafy suburban surroundings, but appearances can be deceptive. In fact, a quiet success story has been brewing over recent seasons that has seen the club rise up the league system to once again play in the Divisional RFU leagues.

The club’s run of success started slowly after they re-joined the RFU leagues and after 2 seasons spent finding their feet in Surrey 4 (level 12), the 1st XV won the league in 2014-15 and subsequently secured promotion from Surrey 3 in 2016-17.

Long-serving seniors club chairman Ed Peters explained: “The club went through a period of rebirth from a Seniors perspective, having not played league-based Seniors rugby for a number of seasons prior to 2012.

“In those early days, our 1st XV comprised a mix of older vets playing alongside promising players from our U21’s age group, who were being blooded for the first time at senior leve. But by 2016-17 our 1st XV was bristling with players most of whom had been playing with one another since Minis.”

At that point Reeds run of form really began to pick up steam securing a further three promotions over the course of the following three seasons, consecutively winning Surrey 2 in 2017-18, Surrey 1 in 2018-19, and London South West 3 in 2019-20.

In the process of doing so they went on a 52-game unbeaten league and cup run that stretched from February 2018 to March 2020, with Reeds last home defeat in the leagues coming three years ago.

First-team manager and club stalwart Jes Isaacs picks up the story: “We were going from strength to strength from 2017 onwards with squad depth and confidence growing each season, nurtured by our ever-present director of rugby Nigel Connell and growing on field player leadership.

“A robust pan-club player pathway, strong coaching and pre-season and in-season routines aimed at playing attractive running rugby have certainly helped alongside the creation of the right ‘environment’ for both enjoyable and successful rugby that has allowed us to continue to attract new players of all capabilities.”

The 2018-19 season marked a watershed moment. Led by the club’s most successful captain in its history, Billy Maddock, the 1st XV not only secured the Surrey 1 title, winning all 18 of their league games and finishing 30 points clear of the second placed side, but also entered and won the RFU Junior Vase.

Skipper Maddock commented: “Reeds is a great place to play rugby. We have serious playing ambitions, but also have great fun on and off the pitch.

“We are really like one big family; the players, coaches, supporters and seniors committee. And whilst a large percentage of the first XV squad have been with the club through Minis or Youth, we continue to welcome new players to the Club each season and make them feel part of the Reeds family.”

Reeds Weybridge president Simon Wallis is keen to also make the point that success is often based on doing seemingly ‘simple things’ well, but which are often difficult to get right, especially in a sustainable sense.

“A ‘one club’ philosophy forged by regular opportunities to tour abroad where players, coaches, and supporters, enjoy the bonds and camaraderie is certainly central to our success,” Wallis explained. “But a hell of a lot of credit must go to Nigel – he’s been with the club on this tremendous journey in his current capacity since 2007 and has been the architect of much of this success.”

MARK SUKIENNIK

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