If you were fortunate enough to watch the London Welsh game at the Kassam against Cornish Pirates last Saturday, you will have seen a superb example of the modern game. I have been following London Welsh for over twenty years and in my book that was the best game I have seen London Welsh play against quality opposition during that period. The game was full of commitment, skill and determination from both sides but London Welsh were in a league of their own on Saturday.
It is early days but from my perspective this team has got massive potential and in my view will get better as the Season progresses. If you want to see a prime example of the modern game played in the traditional 15 man rugby London Welsh style, the Kassam Stadium is the place to be.
What was disappointing was the attendance of 1200 supporters for the Cornish Pirates game. Playing the game early evening rather than in the afternoon was an experiment to see if by playing later it would attract a bigger crowd. Any feedback from supporters on timing of games would be useful in helping the Club decide what to do for the future.
Championship rugby is new to Oxfordshire as was Premiership rugby. This league is a very good league with many good teams playing in it and the style of rugby is extremely entertaining. Many of the Clubs playing in it are fully professional and you will see many future stars for the game honing their skills in this league.
Judging by the large number of active and well supported rugby Clubs in Oxfordshire, we firmly believe that Oxfordshire is definitely a rugby orientated region. This combined with a modern rugby Stadium available for the Club to play in and which would satisfy the various criteria for playing Premiership rugby, made Oxfordshire the obvious choice for our base.
To show our commitment to the area we have moved our office base to Oxford and have recruited three local people to drive the Club commercially. All we have to do is find somewhere suitable in Oxfordshire for our team to train and the move will be complete. We believe London Welsh training in Oxfordshire a couple of times a week would allow them to engage with the local community and show our commitment in this area. In addition, four of the Clubs directors, myself included, are local people and two of them played rugby in Oxfordshire in their prime!
For those newer supporters of London Welsh, I would like to give you a bit of background information on the recent history of the Club. London Welsh were one of the best Clubs in Europe during the late sixties, early seventies. In fact, in the 1971 Lions Tour to New Zealand, London Welsh supplied seven players to the tour and five of them, Captain John Dawes (now our President), Gerald Davies, Mervyn Davies, John Taylor and J P R Williams played in all the tests which the Lions won, the only time to date the Lions have won a test series in New Zealand.
In 1985 in the Clubs centenary, we played in the John Player Cup final at Twickenham losing narrowly to Bath. Sadly by 1993/94 the Club had been relegated from the second tier of elite rugby to Division 5 South where we stayed for three years. No senior Club in England to date has fallen so far and then returned to the Premiership. We may create another record if we return to the Premiership next Season!
From my own perspective, I believe there are great opportunities for London Welsh to make Oxfordshire their permanent home in the Premiership. However, we need greater support from the Oxfordshire rugby fraternity, more sponsorship and volunteers to help the Club move forward and even more importantly, we need additional benefactors. The current financial load is on a couple of shoulders and we need to spread that load.
I am sure volunteers and benefactors exist in the area and our Commercial team will be seeking them out over the coming months but anybody who has either resources and time, or both, and would like to get involved with London Welsh, please let us know. For further details, you can contact David Jenkins, Commercial Director at firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally we have a mouth watering prospect on November 10th playing Bristol at the Kassam. At the start of this Season, Bristol were the red hot favourites for promotion. They are a great Club with a large travelling and vocal support. This will be a massive game for London Welsh and for the county and I implore you to give us your support in numbers as it will be a most thrilling afternoon of quality and entertaining rugby.
If you want to see Premiership rugby return to Oxfordshire, now is the time to support us!