CHICHESTER is set for a rugby weekend to remember – and hopefully a whole season to savour too.
The start of a new National League season for Chichester RFC’s first XV coincides with a world record attempt set to put the club and city on the map.
Saturday sees the Blues host Tonbridge Juddians to kick off their second year in National three London south east – with a host of quality additions to the squad raising hopes they can continue to rise up the rankings.
And on Sunday, the eyes of the world will be on Oaklands Park as the club continue their Festival of Rugby with an attempt at the world’s longest pass.
That will see groups of junior and senior players passing a rugby ball while running from Oaklands Park to the City Walls and back.
If any group completes 280 passes without dropping the ball, it will be a new world record.
This is a very exciting time – and an important time – for everyone involved in the rugby club. We hope many local people will come and watch the first XV on Saturday then come out and support the Longest Pass on Sunday... and keep coming back.CRFC chairman Declan Hutchings
ITV’s Good Morning Britain will be filming the attempt, which organisers hope will see hundreds of people turn out to give support and forge new links between the thriving club and the city.
Main organiser Ron Migliorini said: “We’re hopeful it will be a day to remember and will see us set a new world record.
“Given that it’s Guinness who oversee world records, it’s fitting that the whole thing started over a couple of pints of Guinness. We were talking about what we could as a club to mark the Rugby World Cup and get the community involved, and this is the result.”
Players young and not-so-young have been organised into teams of four to cover the route – and plenty of practice has been put in, especially by the club’s keen young players.
It’s part of Chichester’s Festival of Rugby, which kicked off with a beach tournament at West Wittering in July and culminates in a primary schools rugby festival at Oaklands Park on Friday, September 25.
Before the world record attempt, though, comes another big day for the club as the first XV host old rivals Tonbridge Juddians in their 2015-16 league opener.
The club have made a number of new signings, knowing their second season at national level is likely to be even tougher than their debut year, which saw them peak in second place but end up seventh.
New recruits include Dean Bonds (ex-Redruth), Paddy Macenri, formerly with London Irish Wildgeese, Worthing’s Jack Maslen, South African Marius Greyvenstein and New Zealander Lester Pollard.
Head coach Rob Lawrence said: “These are people who have played at high levels of the game and can all add something to our squad. It’s been easy to ‘sell’ Chichester as a club to them because they can see the direction in which we’re heading.
“We have deliberately looked for players who will fit into the family environment – the brotherhood, if you like – that we’re creating and are still working to bring in other quality additions. We’re ready for Saturday’s first league game –it will be a tough start.”
With the major revamp and expansion of the clubhouse progressing well, all at Oaklands Park knows it’s a big season ahead.
Club chairman Declan Hutchings said: “This is a very exciting time – and an important time – for everyone involved in the rugby club. We hope many local people will come and watch the first XV on Saturday then come out and support the Longest Pass on Sunday... and keep coming back.”
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