Peter Gavin previews Worthing Raiders v Leicester Lions

Worthing Raiders v Leicester Lions
7th December 2019
Kick off 2pm

This week our visitors are Leicester Lions RFC who make their first ever visit to Roundstone Lane. LL were ‘level transferred’ south for this season as there was, once again, a numerical imbalance between north/south in level 2 of the National League. This procedure has been invoked for the last 3 seasons which has meant we have also recently greeted Broadstreet RFC and Birmingham & Solihull RFC from ‘The Midlands’ to the Rugby Park.

History & Background stuff
The club was formed in 1999 through the merger of existing clubs, Westleigh RFC (originally founded in 1904) and Wigston RFC (originally founded in 1946). Their ground is known as TMDP Park located in Lutterworth Road, Blaby, Leicester LE8 4DY. The new clubhouse was opened last September by legend Martin Johnson CBE. He is, of course very much a local celebrity and hero, but it was most appropriate for him to perform this task as he started his career at Wigston.

The club presently turns out 3 or 4 senior sides on Saturdays, with Youth and mini rugby played on Sundays. The Ladies team is known as the Lionesses. Leicester Lions, like Worthing, is a Community Rugby Club.

There are links with Leicester Tigers through the ‘Tigers’ Development (‘A’) team.
Club Colours: Purple with white stripes and black detailing. Change: White & lavender stripes.

Playing/league history
The Club were ‘Champions’ of what is now known as Midlands Premier in season 2004/5 and duly took their place in National 2 North (level 4) the following season. Impressively they have maintained that level ever since. In that 14 season period they have finished 3rd three times, the last occasion being in 2016/7. They have also flirted with the ‘R’ zone, 13th in 2011/12, but avoided the drop by 1 point as Harrogate RFC departed on 59 points.

They will return ‘North’ next season, unless they gain Promotion to National 1, they are very much in the mix. (see further for this season’s record.)

Last season P30 / W13 / D1…75 points… 12th…
After a difficult start, losing their first 5 matches, they then strung 3 wins together, so after 8 fixtures they had 17 points in the bag and lay 13th. Still precarious, but week by week they slowly improved matters. The win in the Christmas fixture at South Leicester (28-34) and the great win the previous week against future champions Hull Ionians (17-0) put a little further day-light (10 points) between themselves and the bottom 3. The win at Sedgley Park (19-20) at the end of January was probably the turning point in the remain campaign.

Wing three-quarter Devon Constant was top try scorer with 21, but ex-Raider, full-back, Alex Wilcockson was hot on his heels with 18 from 24 appearances. Lock forward Ollie Tapscott, back-rower Ethan Godefroy and winger Constant all made 29 appearances. They used 37 different players to fulfil the fixtures.

Level Transferred South
Historically, teams from the Midlands that have been ‘level transferred’ have not particularly prospered results-wise from their trip south. The exceptions were Ampthill who finished 2nd in 2013/4 and Rugby Lions who finished 8th in 2008/9. It was rather a sorry tale for Hinckley (15th in 2010/11), Broadstreet (16th in 2017/8) and Birmingham & Solihull (14th in 2018/9) who all returned and were relegated to level 5 in the Midlands.

This could be the reason why most of the pundits were predicting a difficult season for Lions …how wrong they have been …read-on.

The season so far…. P 13 / W10 / L3…5th 45 points Raiders 9th 33 points
The fixtures secretary set Lions a tough assignment way back, for the first outing, with a trip to ‘title contenders’ TJs (41-12). More or less in line with predictors! A solid home win (38-7) against Old Albanian followed and that win seems to have created a home fortress! Clifton (39-20), Barnes (21-9), BSE (17-0), Old Reds (27-7) and last Saturday table-topping Titans (12-6), leaves the stage set for Henley Hawks who visit on 14th December to try and break the mould. On the road they have also won at Westcliff (12-19), Dings (27-29), Sutton & Epsom (7-23) and Bournemouth (16-17) They have lost to Esher (16-12) and Redruth (20-7). All in all a very good start.
(TJs 53 points…Hawks 52 points…Titans 51 points…Clifton 47 points)

The players
As usual a list of the players used in last week’s fixture against Taunton Titans (won 12-6) is provided along with detail on some of the other players used in other recent fixtures together with a little more information as to their credentials. There are a number of players who have achieved the land mark 100 appearances, but special mention has to be made of tight head Shaun Murray, who has put in an amazing 321 shifts…the story moves to the incredible when the stats show he moved to South Leicester for 3 seasons and put in 80 shifts there!!
From time to time they use a player or two from the ‘Tigers’ development squad. Ed Sumpter (lock) recently played for Tigers ‘A’ v Gloucester.

It will be good to see Roundstone Lane favourite, Alex Wilcockson back at ‘The Rugby Park’ let’s reserve a special cheer for him! (You tube 5th November 2011 Worthing RFC- ‘On My Head Son’ v Lydney: 14,259 views…go on google it again!!!)

Another important fixture with the additional attraction of welcoming a side to the Rugby Park who have not visited ‘Sunny Worthing’ before. Try and get along to cheer the boys along for what hopefully will be another great display of Rugby skills and excitement.
Let’s get behind the team from the touchline, stand or balcony your encouragement really does spur the boys along.……

…… C’Mon Raiders!!!!

Name/Age          Apps 2019/20 Total N2 Apps Joined Points Honours Position / Previous Club/s & Appearances                        *played v Raiders
Team v Taunton Titans 30th November (Home) WON 12-6
Alex Wilcockson © (27) 1 39 2017 England Students Full Back: Worthing Raiders 44, Taunton T* 21
Kaz Henderson (26) 12 12 2019 5T East Midlands Wing: Peterborough 13
Luke Veebel (27) 11/1R 141 2012/18 2019 2T Estonia (15 caps) Centre: Market Bosworth, Tigers Academy, Coventry 4, Stourbridge 27
Jamel Hamilton (23) 12 58 2016/7 2018 1T   Centre: Saints Academy, Chinnor*15
Devon Constant 13 148 2014 6T Leicestershire Wing: Hinckley
Max Johnson (20) 4/1R 5 2019 4T/1C UAE U19 Centre: Dubai Exiles, University of Leicester
Alex Smit (25) 7/4R 65 2017   Scrum Half: Coventry*12, Nottingham 29
Rhod McNaughton (41) 4/5R 35 2006/11 2019 Leicestershire LH Prop: South Leicester 110, Glasgow University, Jordan Hill, Loughborough Students
Sam McNulty (23) 1 1 2019 Warwickshire Hooker: Broadstreet 14, South Leicester 20, Coventry Development
Shaun Murray (41) 11 321 2002/16 2019 Leicestershire TH Prop: South Leicester 80
Ollie Tapscott (25) 9 83 2016 1T Northumberland  U20 Lock: University of Leicester, Morpeth
Will Ward 9/2R 11 2019 Leicestershire Midlands U20 Lock: Nuneaton 24, South Leicester 107, Melton Mowbray, University of Birmingham
Ed Sumpter (29) 9 34 2018 8T Leicestershire BS Wing Forward: Market Harborough, Tigers ‘A’
Johnny Murdoch (25) 11 163 2013   OSWF: Melton Mowbray, University of Queensland
Nick Cairns (25) 12 12 2019 3T Leicestershire Northumberland Eng Co U20 No 8: Stourbridge 29, Tynedale*81, South Leicester 22, Falcons Academy
Charlie Loveday 0/7R 7 2019 Leicestershire TH Prop: Kesteven, Melton Mowbray, South Leicester 11
Will Roberts (20) 5/3R 59 2017 Midlands U20 Eng Co U18 LH Prop: Lutterworth, Tigers & Nottingham Academies
Ethan Godefroy (24) 8/5R 42 2018 2T Leicestershire BS Wing Forward: Market Harborough
Simon Johnson (28) 3/8R 67 2017 Leicestershire Midlands U20 OS Wing Forward: Cambridge*36, South Leicester
James Stubbs (22) 4/4R 8 2019 Leicestershire Scrum Half: Hartpury Bucs, Market Harborough, Hereford
Played Recently Last Played  
Tom Benjamin (22) 3/1R 4 2019 23rd Nov  N,L&D U20 Full Back: Nottingham Academy, Burton RFC, Cardiff Met, Nottingham
Ben Young 8 8 2019 10P/13C 23rd Nov Fly Half: Peterborough 20
Sam Eveleigh (18) 1/3R 4 2019 23rd Nov Scrum Half: Market Harborough, Tigers Dev,
Drew Rudkin (33) 6/6R 272 2007 1T 23rd Nov Hooker: Stalwart, Aylestone St James
George Turner (24) 1/3R 4 2019 23rd Nov BS Wing Forward: Lutterworth RFC
Laurence Warren-West (27) 0/3R 34 2018 23rd Nov Hampshire Wing: Hinckley, Havant, Loughborough Town, Broncos R/L
James Whitcombe (19) 8 8 2019 1T 16th Nov Prop: Woodhouse Grove, Skipton, Bradford & Bingley, Tigers Dev
George Taylor-Walker (25) 2/3R 18 2018 !6th Nov Hooker: Battersea Ironsides
George Martin (18) 2/1R 3 2019 9th Nov England U18 © Lock: Loughborough GS, Merton Brooksby College, Nottingham Academy, Tigers Dev
Harry Glynn (18) 1 1 2019 2nd Nov UAE U19 Fly Half: Market Harborough, Leicester GS, Tigers Dev