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Rugby World - - STEPHEN JONES -

IN 1962, when Northamp­ton Ca­su­als took out a loan to buy their ground, the com­mit­tee put their own houses up as col­lat­eral. The risk paid off be­cause to­day Rush Mills is home to a thriv­ing rugby set-up, with teams at ev­ery level from U6 up and cul­mi­nat­ing in a first XV that sat atop Mid­lands Three East (South) into Oc­to­ber, af­ter wins over Le­ices­ter For­est, Stock­wood Park, Bed­ford Queens and Rush­den & Higham.

A cou­ple of the games were tight and DoR/lock James Franklin be­lieves that is sig­nif­i­cant.

“Pre­vi­ously if we’d gone be­hind, our heads would have dropped but we’ve come to­gether more this year,” says Franklin, who is in his 25th sea­son of first-team rugby. “We’ve got the con­fi­dence to stick to the game plan and know we will score in the last quar­ter. We’ve been push­ing for the last four years and I think we de­serve to be pro­moted.”

Mul­ti­ple fac­tors are pro­pel­ling Ca­su­als up­wards af­ter miss­ing out on pro­mo­tion by two points last sea­son. The Bark­ers, head coach Nor­man and scrum-half son Lewis, ex­ert a huge in­flu­ence, the lat­ter bring­ing to bear the com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills that he de­ployed at Level Three for Cam­bridge last sea­son. Ai­dan Lawrence’s goal­kick­ing has been on the money while plau­dits are due for a youth­ful front row: Will Cheyne, Jake War­dle and hook­ers Mathias Farmer and Jake O’Do­herty are all about 21 and get­ting stronger with ev­ery out­ing. Northamp­ton Saints have pro­vided in­put too – Tom Kes­sell and Ethan Waller are re­cent Saints to have coached at Ca­su­als – and the sense of well­be­ing was ev­i­dent when BT Sport’s cam­eras paid a visit to fea­ture the club on Rug­byTonightonTour. Back-row Ki Brian marked the oc­ca­sion by record­ing a sen­sa­tional 129 score on the fa­mous Smash-o-me­ter. Has it gone to his head? “Not at all, he put in an­other great shift last week,” says Franklin, 40.

As have all at Ca­su­als, our Septem­ber Team of the Month. If you think your side de­serves to be our next win­ner, email alan.pearey@ti-me­dia.com to tell us why. Please in­clude your Oc­to­ber re­sults and high-res photo(s). Email sto­ries and pics to Clubs Editor Michael Austin at aus231@aol.com or call 01400 282189. Team of the Month en­tries to alan.pearey@ti-me­dia.com

Pow­er­ful cen­tre Alex Stephens

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