ONE hundred players and supporters gathered to celebrate a remarkable season for Chichester Rugby Club.
The first team achieved their highest league position - third place in London one south - having been in contention for the runners-up slot in the latter part of the season.
They lost second spot narrowly to London Irish Amateurs but took great satisfaction from an away draw and superb 38-13 home win against the Irish.
Having only come up to London one the season before, the coaching staff were extremely pleased with the league campaign where Chichester proved one of the form sides.
They managed home and away wins over local rivals Hove and Portsmouth and a very good win against Haywards Heath at home.
To top off an excellent league programme, the first XV – coached by Richard Isaac and Rob Lawrence and captained by Moses Kasujja – became Sussex county champions for only the second time in their history with a fantastic victory in the trophy final over a strong East Grinstead side, the 45-24 win highlighting the strength of the Blues.
The first team provided a host of county players with Ben Polhill being asked to captain Sussex – further highlighting the club’s standing.
Chichester are rightly proud of their county under-20s Rhys Gillings, Andy Gray (captain), Jack Walker, Will Mitchell and Tom Lowe, with Gray for the second year going on to represent London division under-20s.
The second team, under the tutelage of Jimmy Taylor with captaincy duties going to Liam O’Hagan and Mark Giddings, had an awesome season remaining unbeaten until the last game. By that time they had secured a remarkable league and cup double – winning the Hampshire Merit table and then the Sussex Bowl with a great cup final win over Lewes.
The thirds – aka the Gladiators, run by Paul Sutherland and Kenny Lawrence – carried on the winning theme by securing their league as champions, being promoted to Sussex one for next season.
The fourths (Huns, run by John Sawday, Dave Outen and Kenny Knox) and the fifths (Barbarians, run by Sawday, Outen and Andy Walker) had good solid mid-table finishes and for the first time in many seasons the club regularly put out five teams - a huge success in itself.
Director of rugby Paul Colley said: “The success of the club is down to a vast array of players and club members who pull together for the good of the blue and blue.”
The night started with a presentation to the club of Kieron Low’s England under-20 shirt. Low is a product of Chichester’s mini and junior section and has gone on to represent England under-18s and under-20s and is now a regular member of the London Irish first-team squad.
Award winners: Barbarian of the year – Carl Fossey; Hun of the year – Dan Cooke; Gladiator of the year – Ian Stocks; Second team player of the year – Liam Geoghegan; Supporters’ forward of the year – Moses Kasujja; Supporters’ back of the year – Billy Toone; Most improved player – Chris Johnson; Young player of the year – Toby Golds; First XV player of the year – Richard Adams.
It all starts again with pre-season training starting Tuesday, July 5.