Reeds Weybridge seek further glory after two years without defeat

By Matt Verri
March 13 2020, 14.45

Talk of record-breaking unbeaten runs in sport have focused on Liverpool in recent months, but it’s Reeds Weybridge RFC who continue to march on undefeated.

The club’s first XV are unbeaten in 52 matches in all competitions since February 2018, a run that has included winning the RFU Junior Vase at Twickenham last season in front of almost 1500 fans.

Reeds have already secured promotion to London South West 2 and face West Norfolk Rugby Club, also unbeaten this season, on Saturday in the regional final of the RFU Senior Vase, but director of rugby Nigel Connell insists the impressive streak has not been an easy ride.

He said: “You can go on a run where you’ve been too good for a division and you’re beating sides easily – that’s not been the case for us.

“We’ve won a couple of games by a point, others where the opposition have had kicks to win. But winning is a habit, and we keep finding a way.

“It’s fantastic, teams make no secret of the fact they want to be the ones to beat us. Each game becomes more intense, which is good for us at the business end of the season ahead of a really exciting six weeks.”

First XV captain Billy Maddock joined the club at U5 level, and the 25-year-old has captained the side for the last four seasons.

Maddock knows the unbeaten run will be heavily tested in the weeks ahead, starting on Saturday where victory will leave Reeds, a club he has a long-standing family connection with, one game away from a return to Twickenham.

“My dad was close to becoming captain of the club,” Maddock said.

“Close, but as I often remind him, he didn’t quite get there.

“It’s in the blood, and it’s an honour to be captain of a club that have given me the chance to build a career while still playing some brilliant rugby.

“We as players tried to not make a big thing of the run until we got to the 50 mark, but it’s an amazing achievement in any sport at any level.

“Securing promotion has been great, but there’s no point us going up unless we win the league. And we’ve got an enormous game in the cup this weekend in Norfolk, we’ve been watching them on YouTube and they are absolutely huge.

The prize is Twickenham – we know what’s at stake.”

It has not always been such a rosy picture for Reeds. Ten years ago the senior side were forced to fold midway through the season, leaving the U15s as the oldest age group at the club.

Starting in the foundation leagues, Reeds worked their way back up through the divisions filling in the age groups, a structure that has had long-term benefits with five promotions in the last six seasons for the first team.

Club President Simon Wallis has been involved with the club for 17 years and helped keep the club alive, and believes the success is largely down to a cohesion throughout the club.

“When I think about where we’ve been, compared to where we are and more importantly where we’re going, it’s so exciting,” he said.

“We’re truly blessed to have Nigel, and he’s built a really strong coaching team and player pathway. Our firsts, seconds, thirds, U21s, colts – they’re all playing with the same brand of rugby and that’s so important for us.

“Of our Twickenham squad last season, 40% were from the minis and 60% from the youth teams – that’s pretty special.

“Each league is posing us different questions, but each season we get another group of players from within really pushing hard for places.

“Our second XV today would probably beat our first XV of three years ago.”

Should the club’s success continue in the years ahead beyond the London Premier division, decisions will have to be made whether to start paying players or to remain as an amateur side.

But the more immediate priority is to ensure Reeds have the facilities to enable them to be more inclusive, such as offering opportunities to girls beyond U11 level.

It is a focus on solidifying the club’s future that their director of rugby hopes will stand them in good stead whenever the current purple patch comes to an end.

“We have a very talented bunch and we’re on a great run, but it will come to an end and we will settle and find our level,” Connell said.

“The emphasis then has to be on membership and longevity, and making sure as a club we’re built on rock.

“There’s no point reaching great heights just for some players retiring to trigger a rapid decline. The player pathway, from U5s all the way up, means we’re in great shape as a club for the years ahead.”

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