- Bridgnorth earn back-to-back promotions
- Midlands club get former England scrum-half on board
From narrowly avoiding relegation into Midlands 3 to promotion into the National Leagues, this is the story of Bridgnorth RFC who have transformed themselves into one of the most successful clubs in the country over three seasons.
The club narrowly avoided relegation from Midlands 2 by just four points in 2013 but went on to go unbeaten in the league just two years later.
Against the odds this season, Bridgnorth comfortably won Midlands 1 to give them back-to-back promotions and secure them a place in National League Three for the first time in their history.
Bridgnorth’s hooker Dan Griffiths (pictured) has been club captain for the past three seasons and played for the club since he was nine years-old.
“It's been an amazing few years," said Griffiths. "When we were promoted to Midlands 1 we were all keen to avoid what happened around six years ago when we went straight back down again.
"We thought this time ‘right, we’ve got a better team this year so let’s see how we go’,” said Griffiths.
It went pretty well.
By Christmas, Bridgnorth were proving to be one of the league's shock success stories having won six matches in a row.
“We didn't set big expectations so we were quite reserved at the start of the season and it just about clicked around Christmas time, we looked at the league table and thought we had a shot," explained Griffiths.
“Then we won a couple of tight games against big teams and started to believe in ourselves. So we went from being a bit scared of the league to believing in our ability and got back to the winning mentality. It all started snowballing from there.”
Former England scrum-half Shaun Perry has been working with the club all season as an assistant coach to the first team which has driven the squad to new heights.
“As we’ve started to gain momentum our chairman Peter Parkes and the whole club have started pushing us and they got Shaun in doing a session once a month and that’s been a really big help for the boys, he brings a lot to the table."
Perry won 14 caps for England including two appearances in the Rugby World Cup in 2007 and a try on his debut against New Zealand.
“He’s good value and he’s going to be on our board for next season as well so he will be more involved and an even bigger help,” added Griffiths.
“The number of spectators we get to watch our games compared to some other teams is tremendous.”
To develop the club further they are hoping to move their junior sections to a new ground so they can have more space and preserve their pitches.
“We’ve outgrown the area we play on at the minute with our mini and junior sections so we’re moving them to a new location so they’ve got enough playing space and as a senior club we will probably follow them."
There have been some dramatic sights at the club over recent years with the first team pitch under constant threat of the River Severn.
“In the past three years we’ve probably lost three or four games to the weather so we're hoping that moving will help in terms of competing at a higher level."
Now the club are preparing for their first taste of National League rugby and who knows, maybe even a hat-trick of promotions.
|Spotlight On Bridgnorth RFC|
|Senior: Five senior men's teams|
|Junior: Mini rugby from U5s|
|League: 1st XV now in National League 3 Midlands|