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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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01400 282189. Team of the Month entries to email@example.com
Powerful centre Alex Stephens