PREVIEW: Ealing Trailfinders 1st XV v Southend RFC 1st XV

With the Autumn internationals a forgotten thing of the past, although Martin Johnson maybe having the odd nightmare, National league rugby returns to Vallis Way on Saturday.

The visitors to Vallis Way for the first time, are Southend RFC, a club dating back to 1870, a year before the RFU itself.

A brief history of Southend RFC

Southend Rugby Club has a long and proud history dating back to 1870 a year before the Rugby Football Union itself. In that year Admiral Charles Barstow Theobald gave a set of ‘By-laws and rules’ to lads playing football at the local Milton Hall sports ground. So the club was formed. 

It was called ‘Southend Foot Ball Club’ and one feels an affinity with those Victorian lads when reading their rules and noting similarities with today’s laws such as Rule 4: A player entering a ‘squash’ on the wrong side is off side. First newspaper reports began to appear in 1878 and early opponents were another Essex side Ilford Wanderers. One reports notes “the pack did not get low enough down, thus wasting weight and allowing the visitors to screw and carry the ball with them”. Who says the game has moved on? A young player of the period Jimmy Cotgrove reported that, “we trained with Paper Chases”, no wonder the scrummaging technique was not up to much. 

Training in 1881
R. Ingram, A. Cotgrove, A. Whur, J. Baluras, O’Shea, C. Ramsden, W. Norman, F. Mitchell, H. Garrett, C. Holthouse

Southend’s league history saw them start in the old National four south, following a period of in their words as “their playing strength diminished and results suffered” they slid down the rankings to London NE3. They climbed back up and were only relegated to N2S last season following the re organisation of the leagues.

Southend currently lie in 5th position , 5 wins, 1 draw and 3 losses from their 9 games played so far. Men to watch out for? Winger Andy Frost is their top points scorer with 106, whilst his other wing, Mark Billings tops the try scoring list with 5, followed by centre Luke Sloane with 4. The bad boys ? Number 8  Sean Vine has picked up two yellow cards this season!

Skipper Jay King is relishing this week’s encounter – ” This week promises to be a tough encounter, Southend are a well drilled, physical and experienced side”.

No recent results can be found, although I am sure we have played them , as I think I was playing!  Maybe my memory deceives me…….Anyway 5th position against 2nd , it bodes well for a good game of national league rugby. 

Director of Rugby Mike Cudmore  added, “They are a team who like to play so weather permitting it should produce a good game of rugby for all watching.  They are a good side with lots of experience and we will be looking to build on our good away win at Worthing with a good home performance”.