Under the excellent and much appreciated coaching of Rich Lamberth and Tom Knox these became regular and greatly enjoyed events and, says the club’s ‘Mixed Ability Co-ordinator’. Mike O’Regan: “What is particularly pleasing is the number of dads that take part alongside their sons, who might not otherwise get the opportunity to play or may be uncomfortable in a more traditional environment. We currently have five sets of dads and sons and one grandad and grandson!”
A wide range of playing clubs are represented too. In addition to the Chobham regulars, training sees current or former players from Camberley, Cobham, Weybridge and Ealing all involved. The club also recently established a partnership with the Harlequins Foundation as part of Project Rugby, which brings playing opportunities to various groups who might not traditionally take part in rugby, and have rebranded as the Surrey Chargers with the hope that this will broaden the profile throughout
Says Mike: “We recently went on our first road trips, first to Bath where we played against the local mixed ability side, the Walcot Warriors, both before and at half time of the A league Bath v Quins game.
Next up was a trip to Worcester for their inclusive rugby festival on the first team pitch at Sixways where, with the help of some of the other teams we played our first contact games, the first fittingly against the Swansea Gladiators, the oldest mixed ability team in the UK. We also played the Worcester Foundation team and, throughout the whole day, it was really apparent how all the inclusive teams help each other out when needed. The season culminated in spectacular fashion at the Premiership Final at Twickenham in May when we took on the Saracens Foundation in the fan village before the big game.”
Next season the Surrey Chargers are looking to build on the existing foundations, raising their profile, attracting more players and playing more matches, with the ultimate ambition of playing at the next Mixed Ability World Trophy, to be held in Cork during 2020.
“The support we’ve received from Chobham has been phenomenal,” says Mike. “With a number of players taking to the field again after a fairly lengthy pause in some cases and everyone at the club committed to making the Chargers a success – the attitude is always ‘how can we make this work?’, never ‘why are we doing this?’.”