Rugby club chairman relives championship winning weekend

  Posted: 10.05.19 at 13:30 by HRFC Chairman - Jeremy Rice



Well, I know many of you have just had a surreal weekend as I did and I’m still pinching myself to check it wasn’t all just a nice dream.

The Ton went to Twickenham and became National Champions. I’ll say that again, Honiton are National Champions! Will they make it into a film? I wonder?

What a fantastic weekend. We had two weeks of stressful organisation and I was relieved to hear that our new chums from Northallerton also had a similar journey in terms of preparation.

Still think we were more organised than they were and they were pretty impressed when we told them about all the fund raising, spread sheets and all the generous donations we’d been given.

As I’ve said before, our Cobra committee worked wonders to get everything right and Chris, Stopper and especially Andy must take a lot of the credit for the hours and hours of meticulous planning.

It was great to see a post from one of our star players who said, ‘everything was sorted every step of the way’ and all he had to worry about was playing. We must also take a moment to thank everyone who donated money, bought a raffle ticket and came up and shouted, it was your day as well.

Anyway to the day. Firstly, what a video Dan made, it was just brilliant and I’ll bet it went a long way to intimidating them there Nutherns.

I went up two days early, took over my long suffering sister’s house with our 10 guests and on Saturday I spent the day, freezing cold, mooching around London trying to avoid being stabbed and feeling a bit like a child on Christmas eve, waiting for Santa to come.

My daughter in-law, Slice, actually asked if it was bigger than Christmas, of course it was, I even had all my clobber laid out ready for the morning way in advance.

In fact I was so excited I drank too much wine in the evening and on Christmas morning I was a tad jaded and even got told off by my daughter for never learning and spoiling the big day.

For once, Mr Hangover soon went and on arriving at the Holy grail, too early I might add, with the Queen by my side, I looked up and saw the towering wall and thought ‘are we, from a sleepy little town in East Devon, going to be playing in there?!’

When the players arrived the hairs on the back of my neck started to rise and I realised this was actually happening and it was just great to see all the Ton fans arriving.

It was also so good to see so many ex-players and so many other good towns folk. Basically half of Honiton came up, well nearly.

Keith Edwards down from Scotland, Justin from Manchester, Chris from Oz, Will’s relatives from Paddyland and all to watch little old Honiton!

Unfortunately or fortunately for us, it was then photo shoots and along with Jane, Jo, Large fellow, Stopper and Andy, we were whisked off to meet the President of the RFU and the Northern dignitaries.

Champers and nibbles and I even got a couple of digs in about funding which the Allerton chaps agreed with.

John Spenser, my new mate, did give plausible answers and just happened to mention it cost £2.4 million to just open the doors on a day like this, this stopped us moaning a bit. I told Chris Gould about this afterwards and he said if they’d have given him the keys he’d have open up and closed the gates afterwards and all for nothing.

Anyway, out to the royal box and just seeing our boys lined up, started the “welling up” process and I realised it was to be a difficult day in terms of composure.

What a game and as my brother-in-law said “he’s never watched something he’s wanted to watch so much but hated it at the same time” and I’m sure many of you felt the same.

It was a white knuckle ride and I’m told Welly’s pace maker had real problems coping with his heart rate.

When we were two scores down with eight minutes left I was contemplating the “well never mind, we had a good day out” line but what a finish and what a game.

We all know it could have gone either way and it was high drama, would you have fancied Tom’s final kick?!

Try saving tackles, monumental defensive sets against human tanks, bodies on the line when we tried to smash our way over and “that try”, which has now been viewed by 23.5 thousand people.

I mention this try in particular, to demonstrate what rugby is really all about “a brilliant team game, where everyone does their job”.

It went like this, a caught kick by Harry and a drive back into their wall, our forwards arriving to make sure there was no chance of losing the ball, Cookie to Brooksie, to Cave who straightened up the defence and then got smashed as he shipped to Cootie, who in turn with no time on the ball, shipped to Tomo whilst also getting smashed for his troubles and all that to do so they could put Tomo in space.

What can I say, he then produced a moment of pure rugby quality, to skin and sidestep four defenders.

When the whistle went what a relief, what a noise, what joy. The Ton army went wild!

Having hugged everyone around me and shaken hands with the gracious Northallerton committee, we then had the formal job of shaking hands with the players.

I was composed, until one of the Allerton players (that Viking tank looking prop), burst into tears in front of me, apparently it was his final game and he’s now lost twice at Twickers, I felt so sorry for him.

Jane and I gave him a big hug, then our guys came up and there were even more tears from our lads, it was all too much and ‘Longsuffering’ even got on the counter to make sure she could reach all of our players, especially our son. I did point out when she was trying to find her shoes afterwards that you wouldn’t have seen the queen do that!



The meal we had after seems like a blur now and I feel we missed out on the “mosh pit” atmosphere but when we re-joined everyone for the speeches I don’t think I’ve ever hugged so many people.

The speeches from the RFU President, their chair Michael, Will and their captain summed up all that is good about grass roots rugby.

I’m sure many have been to Twickenham to watch rugby games before and I’ve even watched a world cup final there but I wager a “shilling”, none would say it compared remotely to this one and I’m sure for many like me, it will be up there as a once in a life time moment of pure sporting joy and happiness.

The after party was interesting, only 100 of us were due to turn up but I reckon it was more like 300 and it was impossible to get served at the bar.

I, like many of you, have been on a high all week and everyone I meet seems to be in the same place as well, we’ll clam down soon.

Right enough of that nonsense, moving on to notices.

We have the junior presentation on the May 19 and Will and Nathan will be doing the prize giving.

This is a chance for our 7-13’s to celebrate their seasons with the rest of the club. Local celebrities Will and Nathan will be there presenting the awards for us.

If some of the committee and especially the players that were seen on the telly, could be there as well that would be good. Tomo is a must!

It will all help to inspire them. There’s a BBQ and the bar will be open too, so come on down, fun starts at 10.30am.

Then on the 25th we have this a big charity day down at Tonsville, I know the organising committee have put a lot of work into this to make it happen and they would really like your support as well.

There will be two adult games, kids rugby entertainment and a band in the evening, so lots going on with a fantastic set of prizes in the raffle as well. This is all for charity so make it a date in your diary.

That’s about it for this week, I might try and do a seasons review at some stage and may even get back to writing about “who’s painted what wall”, what’s happened at committee meetings and who from the RFU is annoying me.

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