- Tunbridge Wells will play St Benedicts in the RFU Intermediate Cup
- Twickenham to host all RFU Finals on Saturday, 7 May
Close to 4oo miles separate Tunbridge Wells RFC from their opponents in this weekend’s RFU Intermediate Cup final, St Benedicts RUFC, but while their journey to Twickenham may be slightly shorter, the game is of no less significance for the Kent club.
Reaching the final marks the end of a record-breaking season in which Tunbridge have won 28 matches in a row to claim the London 2 South East league title.
|RFU Finals day fixtures
|11.00am – Junior Vase: Buxton v Old Cranleighans
|1.00pm – Senior Vase: West Leeds v Withycombe
|3.00pm – Intermediate Cup: St Benedicts v Tunbridge Wells
|5.00pm – National U20 Championship: Yorkshire U20 v Northumberland U20|
“It’s the pinnacle moment in our club’s history.”
“It’s the pinnacle moment in our club’s history,” says club president Roger Clarke who has been involved with them for 50 years. “This is a perfect opportunity to establish ourselves as the top club in England at level seven.”
Tunbridge Wells are certainly a club with ambition. Having overhauled their 1st XV coaching team this season, they are now aiming to rise through the leagues as well as develop their minis, junior and girls sections.
“We are about to start a new phase of our club development plan,” says chairman Graham Withers. ”We want to reach National 3 and we’re putting the systems and players in place to try and achieve that.”
Clarke says the key to the success this season has been their unique coaching set-up. “Our Head Coach Matt Cook plays in the forwards and our attack coach Charlie Harding plays at fly half. Having them both on the pitch gives us real direction.”
Cook and Harding are supported by Mike Whatman and Alex Nicholdson from the touchline and it’s a formula that has clearly worked having reached their first Twickenham final in their 85-year history.
More than a thousand fans will travel to Twickenham in support of the side and Withers says the community’s support has been a significant factor this season.
“It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
“There is a real sense of momentum at the club and a buzz about what we’re achieving so hopefully that will be reflected in a good performance this weekend," says Withers.
While they may be riding a wave of momentum, Tunbridge Wells will face a stern test against a tough St Benedicts side.
When Tunbridge beat Ashford 104-0 in their penultimate league match they must have been hoping to send a message of intent to their RFU Cup opponents. Later that day however, St Benedicts travelled to Ashton-Under-Lyne and, as if to prove a point, beat them 105-0.
The final is likely to be a much closer affair and regardless of the result, Withers says the experience of playing at Twickenham is what will make it a special day.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for a lot of people,” says Withers. “None of our players will have ever stepped out onto the turf at Twickenham so it’s a huge opportunity for them. We want to finish the season in style.”
The RFU Finals will be live streamed on EnglandRugby.com.
Tickets for RFU Cups Finals Day at Twickenham, which will include the National U20 Championship Final, are on sale now via the RFU’s ticketing portal.
|Spotlight On Tunbridge Wells|
|Senior: Four senior men's teams and a Veterans side|
|Junior: Mini rugby from U6s to U17s|
|League: 1st XV - winners of London 2 South East|
Images courtesy of Bruce Elliott