The 2021/2022 season was one that we can proudly look back on despite the slow start. The best news was being able to play rugby following the numerous Covid related lockdowns and restrictions. We also welcomed many new faces to West London Rugby Club, from seasoned players to people who had never played rugby before. And the start of the season ushered in a new partnership with kit supplier Canterbury, who designed and supplied us with new home and away jerseys.
Our preseason involved playing against London Irish Amateurs and the Black Baa-Baas. We participated in and lifted the inaugural Mas Cup, held in memory of former player Maseeh Walehdy. And finally, we once again paid respect to former player Ed Vinluan in the annual Ed Vinluan Memorial game. The opponent this year was the Vinluan Invitational XV, led by Ed's brother and former West London player Mike Vinluan.
Despite the promise shown in the preseason, phase 1 of the league competition was a mixed bag. There were glimpses of potential throughout, but the results ultimately did not go our way. Conceivably, this was probably due to the bedding in of new players, new positional combinations, and not having that bit of luck when it mattered. By the end of Phase 1, we found ourselves second from the bottom, with one victory, which meant we progressed to the Plate Competition in Phase 2.
Phase 2 and 2022 started slowly as our fixtures over consecutive weekends were cancelled. The prime causes were the adverse weather conditions (resulting in unplayable pitches) and a Covid outbreak with one of our opponents. But on February 5th, we finally were able to play our first game of 2022, a cup match against Mill Hill. It was a hard-fought contest in not so great conditions, but one in which we came out on top 22-13. Unfortunately, we eventually had to pull out of our cup semi-final due to the league fixture backlog caused by the consecutive cancellations earlier in the year. We only returned to league action on February 26th, away to London French. We hit the ground running that day and established a good lead before the 4-minute try flurry by London French. Despite this, we still secured a 31-21 victory. We then followed up with wins against Cuffley (51-24) and Staines (47-3). Sadly, our four-game winning streak ended to eventual Plate winners, UCS losing 40-24. We then signed off the league season with a win against Mill Hill (41-0). As UCS defeated Staines in the season finale, we finished a close second in the Plate Competition and 7th position overall in the league (up from 10th).
As club captain, I was proud of how the team persevered and responded throughout the season. To have such a strong finish was a true reflection of the hard work the boys put in, and I cannot wait to see what next season brings. With that in mind, here are a few final words from our DOR Andy Flavin:
“So, West London finishes the season in 2nd place, coming within three league points of the Plate competition trophy. Thanks to all the players for their efforts this season. The foundations are in place to have a good crack at the league next season. All very promising for the 2022/23 Season.”