It was the perfect way for Chichester RFC to mark their 90th anniversary - a day when sport was the top priority and socialising played a big part too.
Just as they did for Chichester’s first game back in 1926, Portsmouth RFC provided the opposition, sending a big squad to Oaklands Park to take on Chichester’s senior players, veterans and youngsters in a series of games.
Fittingly some top-class fast-running rugby was seen, even if the overall results didn’t matter too much on a day of celebration – although one or two of the Chi veterans who rolled back the years were keen to make sure everyone knew they’d got their better of their Portsmouth counterparts 19-12.
In the first game between today’s active players, the final score was 65-12 in Chichester’s favour. Actually, maybe the results did matter...
Organisers of the matches reckoned about 50 Chichester players in total got a run-out during the afternoon - including some who hadn’t played rugby for quite a few years and weren’t moving too quickly afterwards as a result.
Before, during and after the action supporters of all ages gathered in the bar, on the clubhouse and around the touchline to watch the rugby and share some of their memories of the club’s nine decades.
People had a chance to look round the nearly-completed new, expanded clubhouse while a hog roast meant no-one went home hungry.
There were special commemorative shirts on sale with a big 90 on the back and one of the club’s major sponsors, George Ide solicitors, were present to join in the fun as they celebrate an anniversary of their own, 50 years in business.
CRFC chairman Declan Hutchings said it was a memorable day and a great way to celebrate the 90th anniversary.
“We wanted to make the day about rugby and the social side of things, so we had a variety of players and teams involved,” he said.
The beer is still flowing, which is always a good thing, and we are in a pretty good state.Declan Hutchings
“Later in the season we’ll have a more formal sit-down dinner for others to enjoy.”
Hutchings said the club was looking in a healthy state as it reached 90.
“We’re in the last month or six weeks of the legacy development of the clubhouse which has taken close on two years and the feedback we have had is very positive.
“The beer is still flowing, which is always a good thing, and we are in a pretty good state.
“It’s a big season for the first XV trying to hold their own in the National League. They had a very difficlut game at Hertford last week and came off second best but we have a very competitive squad.
“We want to continue to compete at this level and we have the facilities in place for that - and that goes right down to the under-sixes.
“Our colts are doing well and beat Worthing a couple of weeks ago.”
All in all it was an enjoyable occasion for everyone and the first XV will hope many present will be back at Oaklands Park this Saturday (Oct 22) for a vital National three London south east clash at home to Southend Saxons, when a victory is much-needed to get the Blues away from the wrong end of the table.
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