Richmond braced for northern invasion

Boot-iful: Richmond's Tom Platt's kicking could prove crucial today

Boot-iful: Richmond's Tom Platt's kicking could prove crucial today

First published in Richmond Kingston Guardian: Photograph of the Author by

Director of rugby Steve Hill has warned Richmond will be more than ready for the northern invasion of London today.

While Chelsea face Liverpool in the FA Cup final at Wembley, Hill’s men take on the Wirral’s National Division Three North runners-up Caldy for the right to play in National Division Two next season.

It is the biggest game in the club’s recent history at it continues its climb back to the upper echelons of the English game from their demotion to Herts & Middlesex Division One in 2000.

Athletic Ground co-tenants London Scottish have completed a similar journey and last month secured Championship survival with a try bonus-point defeat to relegated Esher in front of more than 2,000 fans.

Hill is hoping a similar figure will back his men to the hilt as they go in search of National Division One rugby for the first time since the club was saved by – among others – late former chairman David Corben, who died last year.

Corben was part of a consortium that fought off the financial advances of then Chelsea chairman Ken Bates, who wanted to turn the club’s home ground in to a training complex for the Premiership giants.

And Hill, pictured left, has insisted his men were only too aware of the magnitude of the match that faced them.

“This is the highest the club has finished since returning to the leagues and we know we have the squad and facilities to play at the next level,” he said.

“It has to be the biggest game in the club’s history since it was last at this level in 1995. It is the end of a long season for the players but they know it will mean an awful lot to a lot of people if they were to get back up to level three.

“The aim at the beginning of the season was to be in a position to push for promotion. We are in a position to do that and all we have to do now is make sure we win.

“I hope it doesn’t come down to an interception try – like it did for London Scottish – but we hope to have similar support.

“We will respect the opposition, but will try to play the way we have all season and hopefully we’ll get to where we want to be.”

Where Richmond want to be is National Division One and Hill is confident that should his squad get there, they would cope with the step up.

“When you look at our starting pack the average age is 24,” he added.

“As coach that says to me that we are only going to get better.”

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