AN unexpected appearance by World Cup star Jonny Wilkinson last weekend added to the air of feverish excitement at Monkton Lane, although Farnham’s first-team squad are really in no need of extra motivation as they prepare for the biggest day in the club’s history.
An appearance at Twickenham – the iconic home of English rugby – is a dream come true for the players and the backroom team of Jamie Salmon (team manager), Matt Shields (head coach) and Gary Stennet (assistant coach) will make certain that Farnham are as best prepared as possible for the RFU Senior Vase final against top Midlands side Droitwich this Saturday.
Farnham’s confidence is high after a superb league campaign during which they were beaten only once, winning the London 3 South-West title and gaining promotion back to the high-grade London 2 SW.
But they are up against opponents who enjoyed even greater league success. Droitwich won all 22 of their matches and claimed the Midlands 3 West (South) title by a thumping 30-point margin.
Farnham hope that the town gets behind their local club and that many will make the short trip to Twickenham to cheer on Mike Salmon’s men.
A capacity of 82,000 at Twickenham Stadium, tickets priced at just £5 (£5 for parking) makes it a highly attractive proposition for a family day out.
Jonny Wilkinson, the former Farnham RFC junior who famously kicked England’s winning drop goal in the 2003 World Cup final (he is still the country’s leading scorer with 1,179 points) put more than 150 youngsters through their paces on Sunday.
The visit was organised by club stalwart Mark Whitford, whose son Tom has been team manager at Toulon, Wilkinson’s former club, for ten years. And the timing could not have been better.
Greeted at Monkton Lane by chairman Geoff Robins and junior section supremo Steve Nicholson, the former England and Lions fly-half was given a whistle-stop tour of the club.
Passing skills were the exercise of the day as Jonny ran five 20-minute sessions to coach as many boys and girls as possible.
With each group getting a team photo and ample opportunities for ‘selfies’ and individual pictures, the morning was a great success.
Farnham RFC’s most famous son is unable to be at Twickenham on Saturday, but he sent his good wishes to the squad as they prepared hard for the final.
The plans for the Senior Vase final have turned into a full-blown campaign, with ten coaches already booked and many others making their own way to the game.
‘Camp Farnham’ for supporters and families will be behind the North Stand and Farnham’s designated area in the ground is to the right of the halfway line in the West Stand.
Kick-off is at 1 pm. For further details, visit the club’s website at www.farnhamrugby.org
Tickets can be booked online at www.eticketing.co.uk/rfu and can also be purchased on the day at Twickenham’s booking office.
For chairman Geoff Robins and president Geoff Bond, who have seen the club rise from modest beginnings to a level that matches the superb arena at Monkton Lane, an appearance at Twickenham represents the pinnacle.
“It’s a great weekend for the club and a chance of a lifetime for the boys,” said Geoff Bond. “I’m so proud of our achievements – come along on this special day. C’mon Farnham.”