A Happy New Year to all the Ripon faithful as the end of the seasonal excesses and family bonding depart, we all make a welcome return to the noble game! I hope 2019 produces prosperity and happiness, particularly on and off the field with Ripon and also with England. As the World Cup in Japan looms England face a tough start to the Six Nations, as a consistent Ireland will relish hosting them in Dublin. For Ripon, improvements in performance and results towards the close of 2018 provide an opportunity for us to climb away from the wrong end of the Yorkshire Two table.
We welcome today’s opponents Old Otliensians to Mallorie Park for their first visit to the City in many years. In 2017 Old Otliensians enjoyed incredible success with promotion from Yorkshire Three, winning the National Vase at Twickenham and a national coaching award. However, despite defeating Ripon at Otley they have found Yorkshire Two challenging and currently prop up the table. They will be buoyed by a narrow victory over their local rivals Yarnbury last time out.
A welcome win for Ripon at ‘fortress’ Wetherby signed off last year for us with a demonstration of both determination and guile. We need to take that positive attitude into today’s game.
At this time of year, it is time to remember the people who make up Ripon Rugby Club, whether they are players, our army of volunteers, officials, parents, sponsors, members and supporters, thank you! We should also make the time to thank our Club Steward Mike Allen and his great team that keep us fed, watered and look after us throughout the year.
Enjoy the game and if you can possibly face another drink there is one waiting for you in the clubhouse.