BIG MATCH PREVIEW -
by Joe Heaton
The affluent county of Surrey, home to many of London’s commuters, is not usually associated with first-class rugby.
Esher R.F.C. was formed in 1923, disbanded during WW2 and reformed in 1946. A few years later the club bought a 27 acre ground in Hersham, the present value of which (even in these straightened circumstances) makes the mind boggle. The facilities there include a relatively new club house and four pitches. Esher and Hersham form part of the Borough of Elmbridge.
Esher Rugby Club entered National League Two on promotion from London League 1 at the end of season 1999/2000 and the club was promoted to National League One at the end of the 2005-2006 season. This is thus Esher’s second campaign at the higher level and at the end of last season a twelfth place- just two positions below Moseley - was consolidated after a shaky start, which saw just one win in the first eight games.
Moseley played against Esher in National League Two in the seasons 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2005-06. Honours were pretty even but the actual results are now fairly meaningless, as both clubs have significantly strengthened their squads in the meantime.
Last season Moseley beat Esher 12-6 away in Dec 2007 and managed to put 50 points on the Surrey men in an end of season bonanza at Billesley. However the Esher squad was strengthened during the summer by the recruitment of four players with significant Premiership experience and a South African No.8.
Former Canadian international Mike Schmid, who led Esher to promotion, is the club’s present coach and the high profile John Inverdale is Director of Rugby.
The two teams are currently very close to each other in National League One, in 11th & 12th positions:
P. W. D. L…BP. Pts Pos.
Moseley 9 3 0 6 5 17 11th
Esher 9 3 0 6 2 14 12th
Moseley’s higher position arises from the three extra bonus points gained.
The results of Esher’s last three matches are:
19th Oct. …….London Welsh 43 Esher 19 L
12th Oct ......Esher 26 Manchester 19 W
4th Oct ........Newbury 8 Esher 14 W
Moseley’s promising start to the season, against relatively weaker sides has been boosted by bonus points against fully professional sides, Nottingham and Cornish Pirates. With a little more steadiness in the closing stages of these games, Moseley might well now be back in the top half of the table.
This is no routine match between two mid-table sides. The stakes are quite high for both teams, as the loser will probably enter the "tiger country" in the bottom third of the table, where the pressures to perform are even higher. It all adds up to the prospect of a rousing match!
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