CHICHESTER’S first XV aren’t the only team getting some well-earned attention at Oaklands Park.
At half-time in the firsts’ play-off win against Eton Manor, the second XV received a warm reception when they came out to be rewarded for winning their league.
A year ago, club chairman Keith Martin entered the twos into the Zoo Sport-sponsored London division three south.
The league competition, known as the Shield, is aimed at offering good competitive matches over a full season giving consideration to the geographical spread of clubs and with player development within their clubs firmly in mind.
Pitching the Chi twos into this higher level with the development teams from some of the biggest amateurs clubs in London such as Richmond, Rosslyn Park, Bracknell, Ealing, London Cornish and Esher has clearly improved the standard of rugby among Chichester’s emerging, young talent and helped propel a number into the first XV.
The patron of the Shield is Sean Fitzpatrick, the former All Blacks captain, who has said: “The best way to first XV rugby is to play your heart out for the second team in worthy competition.”
Coached by Stuart Anscombe and captained by Martin O’Callaghan, the Blues’ twos travelled far and wide, took on the bigger clubs in London, played 25 matches, lost only three and scored 822 points - at least 150 more than any other club - to win the league by a point and gain promotion.
An eclectic mix of older club stalwarts, Chi and Portsmouth uni and college students, Seaford College and Bishop Luffa sixth-formers and a British Army sapper from Thorney Island have gelled into a formidable development squad, played expansive rugby with pace and passion and are now well set to support the newly-promoted Chi ones next season.
Shield sponsors Zoo Sport were represented by local area manager Nigel Clarke, who congratulated captain O’Callaghan and the rest of his team. He will present a set of new 2014-15 season shirts to the Chichester seconds at an awards dinner in London on June 12, when Sean Fitzpatrick will also present the shield.
Remarkably, 24 hours after being part of the first team’s big day, the seconds had another success - lifting the Sussex Bowl at Bognor. Read about that and yet more silverware scooped by the club’s younger teams in the Observer this week.