On Saturday May 21 Eastleigh-based Trojans Rugby Club became the latest addition to the London 1 leagues after a thrilling extra-time victory against Aylesford Bulls. The match, played away at the Kent Club, was locked at 14-14 at full time with the Trojans side finally coming through 28-14 to reach their highest position since league Rugby began.
Trojans Press officer Lee Foster takes up the story:
After a long season, which picked up momentum as it went along, we entered the last regular week with a match away at Guernsey. At the time Guernsey were 4 points ahead of us but with a much better points difference. This meant that we had to win, with a bonus point, and deny them a bonus point to go up as champions.
We won (one of very few to win away at Guernsey) but without the required bonus points. This meant that we had to go in to the play-off system where the second placed team in London SW2 (us) had to play the second placed team in London SE2 in a winner-takes all game.
We knew fairly early on that our opponents would be Aylesford Bulls from Kent but they were in the middle of a cup run that took them all the way to Twickenham in the intermediate cup. This in turn meant that their last league game was postponed, the result of which would determine where the play-off match was to be played.
Anyway, eventually it turned out that we had to play them away on Saturday 21 May.
The Trojans travelled to Kent, along with a couple of coaches of supporters, knowing that very few ‘away’ teams win play-offs, and playing against a team that had the week before only narrowly lost the National Final.
Add to that the fact that we had not played for several weeks since the season ended and it was always going to be an uphill struggle.
The game itself was as hard and fast as would be expected, with Aylesford taking the lead with a converted try only for Trojans to equalise. By the end of the game this cycle had been repeated while along the way the very hard ground and the pace of the game meant that both sides had suffered injuries and most of the substitutes were already on the pitch.
A couple of possible tries turned down and penalty kicks missed as well meant that the pressure was enormous. Regular time ended with the scores locked on 14-14 so the game went to extra time. Here the differences finally showed.
The fact that Trojans had not played for a few weeks meant that they were slightly fresher while the long end to the season for Aylesford seemed to have taken it’s toll as the were eventually, through injury, reduced to 14 fit men and one walking wounded. So a try from club captain Chris Hamp in the first half of extra time and Olli Johnson’s second try of the match in the second half of extra time finally ended our very long season with a 28-14 victory and promotion to London 1 South where we join other local teams Portsmouth and Chichester as well as our old adversaries Guernsey.
There will be some big matches this season!!
Any players out there who want to the chance to play in London 1 next season are welcome to come and try with us, as are any social players as we are aiming to regularly run four Men’s teams this season.
For more information see club website: