The Direction for Richmond Rugby in Season 2019-20
In its 158-year history Richmond FC has experienced victory and defeat and treated both with the same cheerful optimism. We have enjoyed our triumphs to the full and, after our setbacks, Richmond – the second oldest open rugby club in the world - has always risen above them, becoming stronger and more united in the process.
We are certain that this will be the case now as we face our latest twist of fortune, relegation from the Greene King IPA Championship into National 1.
Three years ago, a somewhat unexpected promotion saw Richmond join the Championship as the only club in which all its players earn their living from something other than rugby. Driven by the players’ choice we wholeheartedly embraced the opportunity to remain true to our 'One Club' ethos - by which all players benefit from an equal system of rewards, and the sustainability of the club’s finances remains of paramount importance.
That we have held our own in the league for three years speaks volumes about the commitment and dedication of those involved. Our deep gratitude is due to them all: Steve Hill as Director of Rugby, the coaches, medical team, support staff, Board members, supporters, sponsors - but most importantly of course to the players - all of whom hold down full-time jobs while still somehow finding the time to undertake the necessary rigorous training.
It is an immense achievement and one of which we are all incredibly proud. Although there must be disappointment about where we have finished this particular season, we also feel huge pride in what we have achieved, against all odds and all predictions, in the last three.
As a club we will be celebrating that achievement as the season ends next Saturday against our old friends and rivals, London Scottish. We look forward to rejoining our many friends in National 1 in the new season, but first there will be the little matter of our summer tour, with more than 70 senior players travelling to Buenos Aires - what else would you expect from a traditional rugby club such as Richmond?
Steve Hill, Director of Rugby said: “I could not be prouder of what this group of players has achieved in the last three seasons. When we were promoted, many told us we would not even compete. In three seasons in the Championship we have now beaten every team in the league except London Irish and Bristol. For a group of part-time players to have achieved that against full-time professional athletes says reams about the dedication, hard work and sheer cussedness this club possesses.
The coaches, medics, managers and board members who have supported the team have been outstanding. Throughout this challenging era, Richmond FC has continued to run six men’s teams, two women’s teams in the new prestigious TP 15 Leagues, plus mini and youth teams from under-6 to under-18.
Richmond is, and will continue to be, an open and fully functioning rugby club where next season its 1st XV will just happen to be playing in a different league.”
Cam Mitchell, the First XV Captain, said: “It’s obviously very disappointing to lose our league position, but I couldn’t be prouder of the players, all of whom have demanding careers outside rugby and have been able to compete week in week out against full-time professionals. I speak on behalf of them all when I say it’s been an honour representing the club in the Championship and we all feel a huge sense of achievement.
“We’ve managed to maintain what is important to us - our club - and we couldn’t have done it without the fantastic support of the coaches, medical staff, club members and everyone involved, and for this we are all truly grateful.
We now have to finish the season and carry on moving forward in the Richmond Way!”
Richmond FC Board
Richmond's squad that played London Irish 19 April 2019 - Pic by Roger Wooldridge