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April 21, 2005

Merger of two rugby clubs to create 'first among equals'

From: ic, UK - Apr 21, 2005

OLD Reigatians, newly-crowned London Four South West champions, want to join forces with Reigate to give the town one major rugby club.

Club coach Chris Venn believes a merger of both clubs would benefit everyone.

He said: "The idea is to create a rugby club for the whole town. I believe that Reigate is far too small for two clubs, and the idea would be to develop us from an Old Boys team into a town rugby team.

"It seems pointless for Reigate to be scrapping around in Surrey Two, and if we could put the two teams together we could have a very strong club."

ORs won the title without playing after the league decided not to play the abandoned game between championship rivals Guernsey and Old Emanuel.

Now Venn, who is two years ahead of schedule in his five year plan to get Old Reigatians into London South West Two, believes the on-going success of the club relies on two factors.

"Getting the new rugby club built is very important," he said. "We need that to be a facility that can take the club forward.

"We played at Guernsey at a ground that can hold 1,000 fans. That's the sort of facilities we are coming up against now.

"We are also going to start looking at charging on the gate.

"We did it for the Guernsey game and it didn't put anyone off, but to do that we must ensure we have a product that people want to come and watch."

"What we have achieved this year has been fantastic. We weren't really expecting to be in this situation.

"We made plans to consolidate after last year's success. We targeted a top four place and thought that would be attainable.

"After we beat Dorking the first time and confirmed we were the strongest team in the area, the boys started thinking we could seriously win this title. It was almost more luck than judgement.

"I have always had the attitude that no team should play for the sake of playing, you should always have goals," he said. "I think if we can recruit players in a few areas then we are good enough to get promotion next year."

On Sunday, ORs take on the 2002 word champions Welsh Deaf team at Park Lane.

The match has been scheduled in memory of Sean Ratcliffe who died suddenly last year aged only 10 years old.

Sean's father Chris was a member of the world championship team.

Sean, like his father overcame the challenges of being deaf, and played rugby for Reigatians U10s.

He was a regular figure at the rugby club when his father played for the first XV.

Entry to the ground will be by programme only, which can be purchased at the gate for £2.

All the funds raised from the game will be donated to the Surrey Deaf Children's Society.

The game will kick off at 3pm.

Copyright Trinity Mirror Plc 2005