Thu 11 Feb 2021 16:20

As part of another new feature to keep us entertained during lockdown, we're asking members past and present to name their All-Time Wallingford WRFC XV. 

We start with Dan 'Dirty Red' White - former 2nd XV captain, Berkshire referee, wine connoisseur and all round okay bloke.

"I've selected my team based on my experience playing in the same team. So people like Ian, Olli, Hilly, Bungle, Pooler and Lloydy miss out as I didn’t really play that much with them, even though they're maybe better players than the people I’ve picked.

  

  1. Darren Small - On match days Dodge would arrive with a heady, exotic perfume of stale cigarette smoke and last-night's kebab. On the pitch, he played with a glint of madness in his eye and when the game opened up he was utterly unpredictable and often very effective with ball in hand. A nutritionist's nightmare but an excellent young prop, who packed it in far too early.

 

  1. Stuart Mount -  By the time I started playing senior rugby Stuart was already well into his forties, an established member of the club, an excellent set-piece hooker and a great second team captain. What Stuart doesn’t know about a line-out isn’t worth knowing. Honourable mention to Daryl Rush.

 

  1. Ed Jenkins - Ed was almost impossible to stop at full gallop, a great scrummager and excellent at disrupting mauls with his amazingly powerful grip. What I really liked about playing with Ed was that he never took things too seriously and always prioritised the enjoyment of the game. A multiple winner of ‘best fancy dress outfit’ at the club Christmas party.

 

  1. Dorian Jenkins - Dorian was probably the best defender of any the forwards I played with, he never missed tackles and hit almost every ruck in a game. Almost certainly the nicest man to every play rugby.

 

  1. Damian Bridges - Every side needs someone who is prepared to take on the other team's nutcase, for a lot of my time at Wallingford that guy was Damo. Equally adept at verbal and physical put-downs, Damo would never let the opposition bully us.

 

  1. Luke Best - Luke should have played a lot more first team rugby; he was fast, athletic, physical and a nuisance over the ball in the tackle.

 

  1. Marcus Wiltshire - I didn’t play much with Marcus, but he’s the best openside flanker I’ve seen playing at the club. Marcus always seemed to read the game brilliantly and was able to contest at a really high rate of tackles; his defence was excellent and he was a great link player and always looked really comfortable with the ball in hand.

 

  1. Virgil Yates Russell III - Fully committed on the pitch and great fun off it, Virgil was a fantastic ball-carrier, capable of running over just about anyone, and he emptied the tank every week. A genuine cult icon.

 

  1. Matt Dawes - Matt had a great skills, excellent fitness and a really quick service. What makes Matt standout as a teammate was his attacking approach to the game - we might let a few tries in, but we’d usually score more.

 

  1. Pete Strang - Pete was a fantastic fly-half to play with as he read the game so well, brought other people into the game and wass prepared to run the ball from anywhere.

 

  1. Richard Turner - Rich was so fast, so elusive and so unpredictable with the ball in hand that when he was in space he was almost impossible to catch.

 

  1. Al Freeston - Al would run through a wall with the ball in hand and was a hugely destructive defender, smashing anything that came near him.

 

  1. Don Jenkins - Don must be the best player to ever play for the club, he was a brilliantly balanced runner, excellent distributor and really understood the game. When Don dropped down into the 2nd XV he was usually head-and-shoulders above anyone else on the pitch, however he never showed any frustration and always encouraged the younger and less experienced members of the team. A great bloke and a wonderful player.

 

  1. Glenn Dearlove - Prior to the rise of the ubiquitous smartphone, Glenn was the last captain to spend hours every week ringing everyone up at home, desperately trying to get 15 people to turn out for the 2nd XV. On the pitch, Glenn had the knack of scoring a lot of tries, whether from scrum-half or on the wing, and I always really enjoyed playing alongside him.

 

  1. Ralph Smith - I’m not sure what the opposition would have thought when looking over at a skinny, bow-legged, knobbly-kneed boy wearing two right-footed boots and wiping the remains of his pre-game puke from his chin with a silk handkerchief. As a fullback Ralph always ran the ball when he should have kicked it and his inability to pass the ball to the right often caused further problems, however his defence is excellent and he is a fast and clever runner who can quickly identify space and has a nose for the try-line."

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