London Skolars Season Review

19th September 2016

 

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The year 2016 has been a good one for the club all round, with numerous exciting developments happening in all facets of the club both on and off the field.

At first team level the club have continued to progress, enjoying one of their best seasons in some considerable time. After a couple of difficult seasons, head coach Jermaine Coleman was hired mid-way through the 2015 season, he and his staff have injected fresh ideas in to the team, these started to pay dividends towards the back end of that year. With a full pre-season to instil his ideologies on how Rugby league should be played this year the club have kicked on.

The first team suffered an early blip against Pilkington Recs in the Challenge cup, however this seemed to serve as a wakeup call to the players, who then went on a five game undefeated streak- the longest in the club’s time as a semi-professional club. Particular highlights of this run were the wins away against Doncaster and North Wales respectively.

The team saw their unbeaten streak end against Keighley Cougars in the Ipro cup, however revenge would not have to wait long as Skolars would then beat the Cougars in the league less than a month later. Some choice words from the Keighley coach proving superb motivation. The following month would see the London Skolars topple another traditional powerhouse of the competition in an absolute thriller at New River, this time it was Barrow Raiders who were edged out 42-34.

Top eight status was sealed with the second last game of the season, although it was not easy for the Skolars, waiting until the last play of the game to kick a conversion to win 23-22 against Gloucester All Golds.

The Super Eights have not gone to plan for the Skolars, with injuries beginning to take their toll. Nevertheless, what is certain is that they have proved a valuable learning experience in the consistency required to be a promotion winning team. It has made the team hungry to push for promotion again in 2017 which for a team as relatively young as the Skolars and with such obvious potential is feasible.

The club’s award’s ceremony was held the evening of Friday September 16th and the winners of the awards were as follows-

Coaches Player of the Year- Ryan Chester

Directors Player of the Year- Sam Nash

Players Player of the Year- Dave Williams

A special mention should be made to our captain Dave Williams, along with John Paxton and Joe Price who all surpassed 100 appearances for the club during the course of this season.

In light of recent events, it is important to highlight that the relative success of the London Skolars has been in large part down to players born and raised in London. Of the forty strong, signed regular training group, thirty-two of these are from clubs outside the traditional Rugby league ‘heartlands.’ The club has players who originated from all four areas of London as well as Cambs, Northants, Herts and Beds. Of the eight players from the north and the southern hemisphere, five played this season, these were Jymel Coleman, Jermaine Coleman, Sam Nash, James Hill and Stephen Bannister.

When the club has decided to make a loan move to cover injuries or improve the squad, they have been London bred players who have fitted in seamlessly to the squad. These being Oscar Thomas, Alex Walker and James Woodburn-Hall.

These figures are promising for Rugby League in the south and credit should also go to those dedicated staff members at junior & university clubs around the region who have identified these players, convinced them to pursue rugby league and helped nurture them into the players they are now.

On the youth and community side the club has continued to improve in terms of both participation and ability.

Our mini’s section has had over 35 children regularly playing most Saturday’s, they also held the biggest festival of 2016 where 16 clubs from around London were present.

The under 13 squad was by far the largest in the competition with over 35 players turning out for the team. The side ended up finishing the league season in third place and narrowly being knocked out of the play off semi-final to eventual winners Elmbridge Eagles.

The under 15’s also saw their numbers grow considerably, this saw them win their opening four fixtures before flagging towards the end of season. Between this team and the under 13’s 9 players went on to represent the North in the Origin series.

The highlight of our youth section this year was the under 17 team. They began their season by winning the annual 9’s tournament. They went on to go undefeated through the regular season, winning all twelve games scoring 430 points and conceding just 56, although they would narrowly lose out in the league grand final to Brixton they would compensate for this by winning the Cup competition. On the back of this performance, 4 of the players have signed with professional Rugby Union Academies and 5 were selected for the Rugby League origin series. This bodes well for the future as the club hopes to see a few of these progress into the first team soon.

In the community, London Skolars have reached more children than ever. The community staff delivered Rugby League coaching sessions to over 1000 Primary & Secondary school programmes through the assistance of SkyTry. It hosted over 200 pupils at primary school rugby festivals run by London Skolars and finally it hosted 60 pupils for a tag tournament at the HAC prior to the Capital Challenge.

Off of the field the club finally opened its new clubhouse. Along with a great new office space for the club employees to work, there is also a gym that will be of great assistance in getting London Skolars players of all ages in shape for forthcoming seasons. The greatest feature however is undoubtedly the new bar, beautifully designed and well stocked, it will serve as a superb social hub for home fixtures and numerous other events that it is available for.

The clubs major events, which have now become synonymous with London Skolars Rugby League have continued to grow in size and revenue. This year’s Friday Night Lights recorded record takings, with our club BBQ and new bar already starting to return on the investment. The Capital Challenge saw a record amount of hospitality packages sold, as well as highs in sponsorship revenue. Finally the City Touch hosted a record high amount of participating businesses at 18, it also welcomed two new sponsors and an official drinks supplier.

The club are excited to announce what we have in store for 2017 in the coming weeks, London Skolars events represent superb value compared to many other corporate occasions, with varying levels of formality these are perfect for entertaining clients, rewarding employee’s, staff bonding and networking.

The club would like to thank- the fans for being loyal to the club, we hope to see more of you back next year where we hope to serve up some more good rugby, the board for all the of the work they do behind the scenes, the coaching & playing staff for the rugby they have produced this year and finally all of the club sponsors who’s support makes all of the work we do possible.


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