Northampton Casuals


Northampton Casuals

Infobox_esl_club | clubname = Northampton Casuals


fullname = "Northampton Casuals Rugby League Football Club"
emblem =
colours = Gold with black and white trim
founded = 2007
sport = Rugby League
league = London League
ground = Northampton Casuals RFC, Rushmills, Northampton
web = www.northamptonrl.co.uk

Northampton Casuals is a rugby league club based in Northampton.

History

Rugby league teams existed in Coventry, Bedford and Cambridge and the setting up of a team in Northampton fitted in with the RFL policy of developing the sport in the East Midlands.

In late 2006 a number of articles were placed on various websites about the formation of the rugby league team in the town and offers of assistance were received from Coventry Bears and three other rugby league enthusiasts in Northampton. The founding members met in March 2007 and put in place a plan to set up a team.

One of their first tasks was to locate a training and playing venue. The nearby Casuals rugby union club was approached and one of the founders spoke with their president and within 30 seconds of being asked the qustion, "can we base a rugby league team at your club" answered yes. It was this assistance that proved vital to the success of the club. The rugby union side also let the team use their playing strip and both parties have links on each others websites.

As soon as the rugby union season ended, training began for the newly formed team with 18 players attending the first session from local union clubs and the University of Northampton rugby league side.

The club was accepted into the London League which operates on a Merit League basis. Geographically Northampton is some distance from the London teams and due to this fact played fixtures against teams from the RL Merit League, for example Nottingham Outlaws.

2007

The club played its first fixture on May 13th 2007, after four training sessions, against a development team from Bedford Tigers losing 56 -12. This was the first time rugby league had been played in Northampton by a non-university side since the mid 1990s. Indeed one of the players from that era, Mick Bryant, had joined the newly formed team. Two weeks later the team recorded its first victory over St Albans Centurions second team.

The club went on to play a further six fixtures in 2007. A victory, a draw and four defeats were the results of those games but the club had been established in the town.

Players

Club captain, Mick Bryant, ex-Coventry Bears scrum half Joe Smith and rugby union convert Stefan Fowler were three of the leading lights for the season. However teenagers Dan Brotherton and Sam Howes quickly established themselves as pacy wingers ending up with 8 and 5 tries for the season respectively. ON players Ashley Fulthorpe and Rob Matthews showed great skill and strength in the centres. Matt Dobson, another Casuals player, Nick Wedge, Alastair Shooter and John Cutliffe all showed determination in the 2nd row.

New players to the sport like Luke Makepeace, James Barford and Tim Mudzonga stood up to the test in the front row and will be back for more in 2008.

Over 50 players were introduced to the sport, obviously some of these drifted away but a hardcore of 25 players have committed to play in the 2008 season.

Juniors

Following the distributing of the leaflets at the Northampton Saints RU game, a parent whose child plays rugby union, contacted Andrew to see if his and other children could play rugby league. Junior development wasn't in the original remit of the club but seeing a great opportunity to grow the club the children joined the club.

As a result 20 juniors are now training and playing rugby league in Northampton. The culmination of this was their entry into the Birmingham Junior rugby league festival in July 2007 where teams at the under-11 and under-13 age groups played against teams from Coventry Bears, Derby City, Nottingham Outlaws, Telford Raiders and Birmingham Bulldogs.

Developing Midlands Rugby League

Far too often teams in development areas fail due to the distances involved in playing matches. The Midlands has a large number of teams: Coventry, Derby, Leicester, Nottingham, Telford, Redditch, Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Burntwood. They are all playing their trade in the Rugby League Conference. The sustainability of these clubs is vital if other clubs are to form in the Midlands.

A Midlands Rugby League Steering Group and an East Midlands Regional Group have been established by clubs in the Midlands. Members of Northampton RL sit on these bodies which both have the aim of developing and strengthening the sport in the Midlands.

Future

Founding fathers Patrick Wilson, Richard Heighton, Chris Welch and Andrew Quirke always wanted to develop a club and not a team. With this in mind a development plan for the club has been formulated which includes areas such as setting up of teams at under-15 to complement the existing under-11 and under-13 age groups, the employment of a Community Sports Coach who will visit the local Sports Colleges and introduce the sport to the education sector, setting up junior feeder clubs and the establishment of a second open age team.

These all may take years to come to fruition but the four founding members are determined to set up solid roots for the sport of rugby league throughout Northamptonshire.

The club has submitted an application to join the 2008 Rugby League Conference. If accepted it will be more than likey be in the Eastern Division against teams such as St Ives, Thetford, Greenwich, Colchester, Bedford Tigers and Cambridge.

Agreement has been reached with Northampton Casuals rugby union team to rent facilities for the 2008 season and the club will continue to recruit players for the next season.

As of writing this article, start August 2007, the club has applied for 4 grants to develop the club. Three of those are for the junior section and the 4th for the open age team. The club should shortly hear as to the outcome of those applications.

Records

* Tries in a season: 8, Sam Howes
* Tries in a match: 3, Mick Bryant vs St Albans 26/5/7; 3 from Sam Howes vs Bedford 9/6/7
* Goals in a match: 7, Stefan Fowler vs St Albans 26/5/7 & Bedford 28/7/7
* Points in a match: 28, Stefan Fowler, 2 tries and 7 goals
* Points in a season: 72, Stefan Fowler vs St Albans 26/5/7
* Most appearances in a season: 7, James Barford, Luke Makepeace, Matt Dobson, Sam Howes and Stefan Fowler

External links

* [http://www.rugbyleagueconference.co.uk/ Rugby League Conference]
* [http://www.midlandsrugbyleague.co.uk/ Midlands Rugby League]
* [http://www.londonarl.co.uk/ London Rugby League]
* [http://www.rfl.uk.com/ Rugby Football League]
* [http://www.northamptoncasualsrfc.com/ Northampton Casuals RFC]


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