The Merton and Mansfield Rugby Club enjoyed a successful 2016-17 campaign that was capped off with the fellas trotting out on the hallowed turf at Iffley Road, home of the Blues. Despite a slow start in the league campaign, the side really gelled as a unit over the course of the year and galvanised themselves for a big cup run that saw twists and turns at every stop: an away fixture at Division 2 Christchurch where, despite being men down and starting the game with a points deficit, the Ms ran a petulant ChCh team right until the very end; despite the result column marking it down as a loss, Sky Sports pundit and former Ms No. 10 James Costello O’Reilly labelled it ‘the finest performance an Ms side had ever given.’ The next week, however, gave the same pundit cause for reconsideration: a 13-man outfit made the trans-atlantic trip to Pembroke’s playing fields, continuing one of world rugby’s most heated rivalries, and, amidst controversy over illegimately-fielded players on both sides, dominated the scrum and turned a 3 try deficit into one of MMRFC’s finest comebacks. By the time Iffley Road rolled round for the Bowl semi-final, a once fresh-faced Ms unit was a side of battle-hardened veterans. Trinity College, eventual winners of the Bowl, were victors on the day, but the transformation of the Ms over the course of the season ensured that it was a season celebrated, rather than a defeat mourned, that night. Cause only for speculation at the heights an equally-disciplined and well-drilled Ms side could reach in the new campaign, led by captain Alex Villiers-Smith (Mansfield), ably supported by vice-captain Milo Reynolds, President of MMRFC, George Prescott and social secretary Henry Sasse (Mansfield).
While the exploits of these fine young men may sound more like something out of a heroic action movie or Homer’s Iliad, the atmosphere within the ranks is one of camaraderie; training varies in frequency and intensity to suit all in the squad, and the side mixes newcomers to the game with old hands. Anyone interested in joining Merton and Mansfield’s most accomplished and welcoming sports team is encouraged either to attend the Freshers’ Week introductory training session and social, or get in touch with any of the officers listed above.