It was fifteen years ago today...
By Mark W-J
August 17 2017
Well, maybe not exactly fifteen years ago today, but on Tuesday 20th August 2002, London Welsh played a pre-season friendly at Staines. We were about to embark on a fifth season in National League One (level two) and we finished the season in fifth place - behind Rotherham, Worcester, Exeter and Orrell - to be ranked as the best semi-professional club in the land.
Welsh ran out 35-5 victors, having led 28-0 at half-time, following a switch to the second (training) pitch to play the second half under the floodlights, with tries from full-back Lee Davies, centre Adam Bidwell, openside Caleb Kronfeld (brother of Josh) and a brace from winger Mark Whittingdale. Fly-half Richard Mahoney kicked four conversions, with Davies adding the fifth. It was our second pre-season friendly, following a 29-20 win at Henley the previous Saturday, and the newcomers to the squad that season - aside from Kronfeld and Whittingdale - included Rory Greenslade-Jones, Lee Starling, Steve Millard, Tim Collier, Lorne Ward and Dylan Pugh. I’m pretty sure that Mower and fellow newcomer Sean Phillips were both binned - one for some over-zealous footwork at a ruck, and the other for lifting his opposite number off his feet at a scrum. This was Matt Fitzgerald’s first season as captain, replacing the recently departed Luke Jones. Sadly the game also saw South African lock Trevor Boynton sustain a career-ending injury, and he was replaced midway through the first-half by 37 year-old newcomer Tony Copsey.
The starting XV was:
15. Lee Davies, 14. Rory Greenslade-Jones, 13. Geraint John, 12. Adam Bidwell, 11. Mark Whittingdale, 10. Richard Mahoney, 9. Tom Lewsey; 1. Sean Phillips, 2. Gregg Botterman, 3. Adam Kelly, 4. Andy Johnson, 5. Trevor Boynton, 6. Florent Rossigneux, 7. Caleb Kronfeld, 8. Matt Fitzgerald ©.
while the replacements were (deep breath): Dan Connolly (full-back); Paul Whittaker & Paul Farmer (centres); Andy Lee (fly-half); Alex Birkby (scrum-half); Val Chirita & Lorne Ward (props); David Price (hooker); Adam Slade & Tony Copsey (locks); and Tom Miklausic, Andy Walters & Darren Bowles (back row).
Among those not included at Staines, but who would feature in the opening month of the league season, were Chris Ritchie, Steve Ravenscroft, Martin Giraud, Bruno Green, Paul Mansfield, Richard Griffith and Chad Eagle.
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