Round 8 and another new team for London Welsh, as the Exiles head to Banbury RFC (just North of our of old haunts in Oxford) to take on the Oxfordshire side for the first time at Senior level.
Round 7 finally witnessed a near full strength Welsh side take to the field, with 7 players returning to the starting line-up. Welsh had been threatening to cut loose in Rounds 5 and 6 and sadly for Bracknell, they were holding the package when the music stopped.
Welsh did not escape Round 7 without injury though and returning number 8 Tommy Williams experienced a flare up in the back injury that his kept him away from the game for almost a year; Tom will not feature in Round 8. Ben Bodinham (himself returning to the side) broke a metatarsal in his hand but is fit to remain in contention for Round 8. In a further boost, BUCS Premiership winner and England Students International, Griff Whitson returns to the squad and will be looking to return to action immediately following his knee injury. Club Captain James Buncle also returns to the side having missed Round 7 on International Duty with Norway. Tight Head Sam Johnson and Second Row Ben West, are not available for the trip, but Welsh will be able to field the same backline as that which started the previous Round (for the first time this season).
Banbury are three years short of celebrating their centenary, having formed in 1925. Our hosts joined London Welsh in being promoted to Level 5 after a successful 2021/22 season which brought them a second place finish in South West 1 (behind Oxford Quins) – with 23 wins from 26 played and comfortably clear of Bracknell who took the last promotion spot.
Banbury have had a promising start to the season with 4 loses and 3 win from the first 7 rounds; the last 2 rounds bringing wins and last weekend a win came on the road at Bournemouth, by the narrowest of margins 20-21. Going in to Round 8 Banbury sit one place above the Exiles in 7th place.
In the stat stakes: Banbury have scored 147 and conceded 206, scoring an average of 21 points per game thus far. However, in their 3 wins to date, no have come with a bigger winning margin than just 6 points.
Level 5 is the highest that Banbury has reached thus far in the English league system. However, they are making some big big moves, none less that the acquisition of Soana Tong’uiha as Head Coach and occasional player. The former Tongan international and Northampton Saints star coming off the bench for our opponents in Rounds 6 and 7.
Welsh will be looking to build on the excellent and timely performance last time out and to consolidate the progress up the league.
Our hosts have confirmed that the club bar will open from 13.15 pm and places can be booked for their pre match lunch by emailing the club via their website.
The London Welsh Supporters Bus will be making the trip to Banbury and you can book your place HERE: https://www.tickettailor.com/events/londonwelshsupportersclub
We look forward to seeing you all with us on the weekend and here is to another powerful performance!