Chichester rugby heroes are kings of the county
Chichester lifted rugby's Sussex Trophy to round off a stunning season which many believe has been the best in their history.
They overcame a fierce challenge from East Grinstead to take the county silverware for the second time in three years, watched by a large number of travelling fans at Brighton RFC.
The 45-24 victory and subsequent celebrations were a fitting end to a superb season in which they nearly grabbed a promotion play-off spot in London one south, which itself is the highest level at which they have played.
The campaign included a long unbeaten run and Oaklands Park was a fortress where they scored tries for fun and gave large crowds plenty of entertainment.
Now the club want to build on their success next season – and bosses plan to start preparations for the next campaign after only a minimal amount of time off.
Teams throughout the club’s set-up have done well this season – from junior sides up to the seconds and thirds.
But it’s the first XV’s season of success that’s got everyone at Oaklands Park floating on air.
Tonbridge Juddians won London one south comfortably with 121 points but Chichester finished third on 103 points – just five behind the strong London Irish Amateurs, who they beat at Oaklands Park.
In addition, two of the club’s ex-colts have been regulars in the England under-20 team.
Paul Colley, the club’s director of rugby, said they were delighted to lift the Sussex Trophy.
“It was a high-quality final with two highly-motivated teams giving everything,” he said.
“Although we didn’t reach the heights of some of our league performances this season, we showed as a team we have grown in stature over the past few years and had enough quality and desire to overcome a very strong East Grinstead team who have been crushing teams in their league and indeed in the cup.
“This rounds off a remarkable season for the club both at junior and senior level.
“At senior level this first-team squad have pushed on from the great platform laid over the past few years with our highest-ever league finish and rounded off with a real team performance to lift the Sussex Trophy.
“Our second team had a remarkable league and cup double with the threes winning promotion into Sussex one.
“Running five senior teams and a good colts set-up, we are perhaps at our strongest level across the club for many years – if ever.
“The challenge is now to maintain this momentum a keep striving to be the best we can be.
“Success relies on huge effort across all areas of the club both on and off the pitch.”
Colley said there were almost too many people to mention who had played a part in Chichester’s season to savour. But he did single out a few for special praise.
“Keith Martin as chairman has been fantastic, coaches Richard Isaac, Rob Lawrence, Jimmy Taylor and Paul Sutherland have given great support,” he added.
“Skippers Moses Kasujja, Liam O’Hagan – and Mark Giddings when Liam was injured – and Kenny Lawrence have all been inspirational leaders on the pitch.
“Kenny Knox and Andy Walker drove the Huns and Barbarians to solid mid-table finishes.
“Well done to the whole club on a great season. Now for a couple of days off – and then the preparation starts for next season.”