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A profile of Sutton & Epsom

Founded in 1881, Sutton & Epsom is one of the oldest active Rugby Clubs in England with a proud and magnificent history. We first played against Saracens as far back as 1883/84, as one of their very early opponents, and in 1901 beat Stade Francais on their home turf.

Today the Club is one of the largest amateur Rugby Clubs in the Country and from its main ground in Rugby Lane, Cheam, remains run by enthusiasts for enthusiasts. We have over 30 teams with 1,200 current and former playing members, plus 1,800 social members.

As a thriving and integrated Club it provides an enormous boost to the community, effectively delivering rugby football to both members and the wider populace. This is without subsidy or financial burden to either ratepayers or taxpayers. We are continually strengthening our rugby offering to current and future players, whilst maintaining financial solvency despite a backdrop of ever increasing costs and growing social pressures.

We make rugby accessible to all standards and all ages of both sexes and have a growing numbers of registered players, bucking a trend experienced by many other sports. Our playing strength encompasses Under 5s through to Veterans. These are supported by a massive network of RFU qualified coaches, managers and other appointed helpers including a physiotherapy set-up, staffed by two highly qualified experts in sports injuries, which is the envy of many professional clubs.

In 125 years of existence we have provided a playing forum for tens, if not hundreds of thousands of players. We have developed international and county standard players and supported the development of county level coaches and senior level referees as well as supporting the appointment of many of our members onto the decision making bodies of Surrey RFU and the RFU itself.

We currently run 6 adult teams for men, headed by the 1st XV. The Club is very positive and forward-looking – we were one of the first to form a squad for adult ladies. This development has been enormously successful, both in terms of their results and in the atmosphere and vibrancy brought to the Club as a whole and we are at the forefront of one of the fastest growing sectors of sport nationally.

We have one of the largest and best run mini and junior rugby sections in the country. The RFU and Sport England have both formally recognised us as quality leaders. England’s victory in 2003 caused a phenomenal growth in mini rugby, which has been sustained. We run 60 strong development groups for those at Under 5 and Under 6. Indeed the RFU national guidelines for children of these ages were based upon our approach and that of Ealing RFC. We run similar sized age groups for both boys and girls at each of the Under 7 to Under 12 age groups, each of which play to a nationally recognised and tailored game format. Coaching, fitness, team spirit and fun are combined with competitive fixtures often in a joint training session with another club or in a Festival of Rugby.

At Junior level we run age groups at Under 13 to Under 18 in which these youths are coached to play full 15 man rugby in a competitive league structure. These Surrey Leagues are considered to be one of the best organised in the country and give our lads real opportunity to progress. As a result we are able to bring through a number of potential England players; most recently Patrick O’Grady and Michael Rickner at Under 18 and Michael Ponting at Under 16. Some of these may follow in the footprints of Paul Hodgson and Alex Mockford who have already gone into the professional ranks. Paul in particular was 1st pick scrum-half at London Irish, and went on to be capped for England.

This is an inclusive club and sport. We offer a warm welcome to newcomers, irrespective of whether they are diehards or new to the game. We also very much encourage the support and participation of family members – parents, siblings and other relatives – whilst ensuring, in a game where passions can run high, that their enthusiasm remains within our Codes of Conduct which are based upon fair play, equity and respect. Our members also provide practical active support to other organisations in the community. From an early stage we became a partner to NESCOT to promote and assist with the running of their BTec course. We have appointed a school liaison office and other community-focused people to develop rugby at club and community level. Club members provide regular grass root coaching at a number of schools that have an emerging interest in the sport. We have also provided one of Surrey’s two Rugby Development Officers, who spend much of their time with schools and developing clubs.

We have for the last few years also staged the bulk of the Surrey County RFU’s development festival for the Under 7 to Under 12 age groups drawn from 18 separate Clubs – a total of over 70 teams. This high profile event, which has won national plaudits, involves c1000 young players plus their coaches, referees, first-aiders, families and friends plus central catering, medical care, communications, security and logistics. We are fortunate to have had the support of NESCOT for this event with the additional use their adjoining pitches and car park.

Finally, we belong to a very old club with lots of history and many, many past and present members who treasure the experiences held within THEIR club. It should therefore not be lost on anybody that we have in our hands a precious legacy which – as is so often said of the New Zealand All Blacks jersey – “isn’t ours to keep, but is something to make the most of when it is your turn and to cherish, sustain and strengthen for coming generations”.