London Welsh will return to Old Deer Park this Saturday for the first time in the 2022/23 season and will welcome the visit of Oxford Quins. This will be the 5th new league that the famous Kew Gardens Pagoda will have presided over in as many seasons, since project reset in 2017.
The Exiles got back to winning ways last weekend, with a 22-12 victory away at Royal Wootton Bassett in Round 2, with tries coming from Dafydd Manley, Jack Anderson and Louie Groark, making it one in win from two. The win moved Welsh up to ninth in the Regional 1 South Central standings in a game that they heavily dominated but failed to come away with a winning bonus point.
Welsh were once again without a number of key starting players for that match, including the likes of Tom Baldwin and Rhys Howells, Captain James Buncle, Ewan Gully, Griff Whitson, Ben West and Sion Cowdy to name but a few. However, week on week the injury crisis is subsiding and just as from Round 1 to Round 2, Round 3 will see further players back in the training camp.
In contention for selection this week we should see the return of Howells and Gully at centre, Cowdy and Jonathan Ilori of the back 3, as well as Balwdin, Bodinham and all 6’8 of Ed Couzens to the second row. Also, returning will be Captain James Buncle and back row Adan Cole. All will be pushing to make an appearance.
Welsh’s opponents, have had a very positive start to the season, winning their first two games 25-21 and 21-13, against Brighton and Bournemouth respectively.
Like London Welsh, the Quins gained promotion to the level 5 this season, rising from Tribute South West 1 East, winning the league with 116 points, and with only one loss from their twenty six games. Quins currently find themselves sitting third in the table.
Welsh will have fond memories of time spent in Oxford during the Premiership era and our time at the Kazam. There are connections in the camps also: Head of S&C Will Taylor played alongside (and is good friends with) Quins key summer recruit Tom Varndell (the Premierships record try scorer) at Wasps and last seasons assistant Druids 2nd XV coach Lee Irvine has taken up a role with our visitors, having relocated to Oxford with his career.
The day promises to be an enthralling one with both sides looking to make further progress up the table!
Festivities begin from 12.30 as our Pre Match lunch gets underway. The three course meal will be accompanied by our special guests and serenaded by the first outing of the year for the world famous London Welsh RFC club choir. Tickets are limited but you can book remaining availability for the lunch and full matchday experience here (BOOK NOW), lunch tickets come with entry to the match included: https://www.londonwelshrfc.com/events-list/
All bars will be open from 11am and the Patron Members Bar will be available from midday for Patron and Gold Patron Members (only). The Druids 2nd XV will kick off their Merit Premiership campaign against Old Haberdashers 2nd XV from 1.30 as a curtain raiser to the main matchday event.
Prior to the match tributes will be paid to HRH Queen Elizabeth II, and indeed to those Members that we have sadly lost since we all last gathered at Old Deer Park.
The match will be followed by further entertainment from the club choir, Happy Hour 6pm-8pm and a live DJ until late in the evening. We are also reliably informed that the elusive Dewi the Dragon will be paying us a visit on his flight path to Mid Wales!
A reminder to all that you must bring with your membership cards and season ticket passes to gain free entry (as a member). As we are early in the season allow for some teething issues at the gate so if in doubt leave plenty of time to arrive and bring all relevant club cards and membership with you. Those that have purchased season ticket via membership this week your membership may not arrive on time for Saturday, therefore please bring suitable ID with you as all members names will be on the database at the gates.
Membership (and thus free season tickets) can be purchased on the day but this may take a few minutes to process and therefore please do arrive early (we strongly discourage you from leaving membership purchases to the last minute on matchday as crowds will likely be large and staff will.be extremely busy). Season membership options can be found and purchased here and will be live and ready for Saturday: https://www.londonwelshrfc.com/product-category/membership/
Admission for the game is £7.50 for non members and is free for members and under 16s. The Lion Gate entrance (rear entrance) will not be open for walk in admission and as ever match day parking will be limited. All walk in admission will be via the main gate.
We very much look forward to welcoming you all to the start of our 137th season; the 66th at Old Deer Park!