Durham County Senior Men’s Championship ended by a strong Leicestershire side

Durham County Senior Men’s Championship ended by a strong Leicestershire side


Durham Senior Men County Campaign hopes holted by a strong Leicestershire side in a 55-14 loss.

Pictured: Team after Cumbria victory


After two convincing victories, Durham were in a fight for Twickenham glory as they travelled down to Oldham RFC on Saturday.

Durham opened their campaign welcoming Cumbria to Hartlepool Rovers and running in a 62-5 victory for local spectators to enjoy.

The first away trip to play Staffordshire saw a similar turn of events as once again they did not struggle to get a score on the board, leaving Lichfield RFC with a 44- 14 victory.

Although, Leicester had also had a similar favourable start to the campaign and asserted dominance in play that Durham had not yet been faced with.

The hosts were an experienced side selected in the main from South Leicester, Leicester Lions and Hinckley.

John Dove, Chairman of Selectors for Durham County Seniors said: “They demonstrated they were a strong side on the pitch as well as on paper.

So much so, their victory sees them play in the fianl at Twickenham on Saturday for the fifth tim in seven years of playing in the compeition.

“We are a very young squad and will have beneffited from this years competition and will add to our strength coming back next year.”

On the day, try scorers Liam Checksfield (of West Hartlepool) and Max Connon (of Blaydon RFC) lined up Josh Bragman (of DMP) for the conversions to cut the deficit to 55-14.

Throughout the Championship, Durham have welcomed new players to the team sheet and to the pitch to contribute to the sides success. In paticular, Tom Johnson is the first player in 17 years to play for the representative side from Hartlepool RFC and was also awarded his County Cap on Saturday for making five appearances.

Picture: Tom Johnson of Hartlepool RFC receiving County Cap


Players throughout the campaign also came from: West Hartlepool, Blaydon, Billingham, Harrogate, Middlesbrough, Darlington Mowden Park, South Shields Westoe and Durham City.

Alot of hard work takes place on the lead up to the County Championship that makes it possible, Durham County RFU would like to thank all the back up staff, the Chairman of Selectors and the excellent work of the Coaches, Chris Wearmouth and Andrew Baggett.

Team that faced Leicestershire:

1. Charlie Purkiss-McEndoo       Harrogate
2. Tom Larder                               Harrogate
3. Ben Parkinson                          Durham City
4. Chris Wearmouth                    Blaydon
5. Andrew Kirton                       
   Sth. Shields Westoe
6. Talite Vaioleti                           DMP
7. Anthony Jackson                      Billingham
8. Danny Dixon                             Billingham
9. Max Connon                             Blaydon
10. Andrew Baggett                    Blaydon
11. Frazer Wilson                         Blaydon
12. Peter Youll                              West Hartlepool
13. Liam Checksfield                    West Hartlepool
14. Martin Hopley                        Billingham
15. Josh Bragman                         DMP

16. Kieran Clark                            Middlesbrough
17. Chris Wood                            DMP
18. Tom Johnson                         Hartlepool
19. Martin Lonsdale                    Blaydon
20. Lewis Roxby                           Billingham
21. Conner Foley                         Middlesbrough

See more about Senior County Side

By Clarissa Murphy

Willer’s Wanderings ended alongside Durham County’s Championship Campaign

Willer’s Wanderings ended alongside Durham County’s Championship Campaign


The Durham County Willer’s Wanderings were drawn to end with an away trip with the County Senior Men to Oakham RFC for the County Championship match against Leicestershire.

The game made an interesting start as all spectators except the referee spotted a problem when both side came on to the pitch wearing maroon shirts and socks, meaning that the only way of telling the teams apart was by the different coloured shorts.

Leicestershire were the far larger side and quickly took control of the match scoring a penalty try and a push over from a scrum in the first fifteen minutes.

When a Leicestershire player tackled one of his teammates the referee realised he had a problem and there was a delay while the Leicestershire players turned their shirts inside out.

Durham began battling their way back into the match and midway through the first half scored a converted try. Leicestershire added a further try to lead 22 – 7 at the half time break.

Durham scored early in the second half to cut the deficit but as the match went on the effort of playing against a more powerful side took its toll and Leicestershire scored at regular intervals to run out 55 -14 winners.

Durham had been hit by a number of their regular players not being available. However, this allowed three debutants to step out and make an appearance.

The players would have learnt a lot from this match and I am sure will make a real contribution to the county team in the future.

At the after match meal, I presented ties to the three debutants. One of the recipient being Lewis Roxby who had been part of this seasons successful Under 20s side. In all the excitement of being selected for the full county team  Lewis had forgotten to pack his trousers and had to collect his tie wearing number ones and shorts, much to the amusement of his team mates.

Pictured: Tom Johnson receiving County Cap


The final presentation of the day went to Tom Johnson, Tom is the first player from Hartlepool RFC in seventeen years to play for the county team.

He was extremely proud to have played in five matches and earnt a County Cap.

Durham Senior Men face Leicestershire in the race for Twickenham

Durham Senior Men face Leicestershire in the race for Twickenham


Durham County Senior Men travel down to Oakham RFC on Saturday to face Leicestershire in the contest for a final spot.

After Durhams two victories over Cumbria and Staffordshire and a strong start for Leicestershire it will be a winner takes all game at Oakham.

The game will see the winner head to Twickenham for the final next week.

Durham Senior Men look to mirror the success of the U20s as they made their way to Twickenham earlier this month to face Yorkshire.

In preparation for the last round, Durham have selected their travelling team to face Leicestershire.

Team as follows:

1. Charlie Purkiss-McEndoo       Harrogate
2. Tom Larder                               Harrogate
3. Ben Parkinson                          Durham City
4. Chris Wearmouth                    Blaydon
5. Andrew Kirton                       
   Sth. Shields Westoe
6. Talite Vaioleti                           DMP
7. Anthony Jackson                      Billingham
8. Danny Dixon                             Billingham
9. Max Connon                             Blaydon
10. Andrew Baggett                    Blaydon
11. Frazer Wilson                         Blaydon
12. Peter Youll                              West Hartlepool
13. Liam Checksfield                    West Hartlepool
14. Martin Hopley                        Billingham
15. Josh Bragman                         DMP

16. Kieran Clark                            Middlesbrough
17. Chris Wood                            DMP
18. Tom Johnson                         Hartlepool
19. Martin Lonsdale                    Blaydon
20. Lewis Roxby                           Billingham
21. Conner Foley                         Middlesbrough 

Willers Wanderings: One game to go

Willers Wanderings: One game to go


Senior County Cup Final

Darlington Mowden Park and West Hartlepool wrapped up the Durham County rugby season with an entertaining Senior Cup final at the North Echo arena.

On Thursday night,  the three league difference between the two teams proved too much for the visitors to overcome as they lost 64- 5.

West Hartlepool battled to the final whistle even though Mowden were consistently the stronger side.

It was my pleasure to present the trophy to the Mowden Park captain.

The match was played in front of a large crowd, as have the other County Cup finals this year.

My thanks go to the Cups Competition Committee who have done a great job in ensuring the timely completion of all competitions this season and my congratulation go to all of the winning clubs.

Darlington Mowden Park receiving Senior County Cup


Durham County Senior Men

Having missed the County Senior sides opening match victory last week, I  joined the squad for the match against Staffordshire.  This meant an early morning start for the trip to Lichfield RFC for the match.

The Durham boys started with a bang receiving the kick off and going through several phases to  score without Staffordshire having a touch of the ball.

The Durham backs gave the visitors an comforting start scoring each time they had the ball to build up a 17 point lead. On one of their rare attacks Staffordshire managed to score a converted try to reduce the Durham lead to ten points.

Durham scored at regular intervals to build a 41 – 7 lead. Staffordshire battled to end and were rewarded with a late try to make the final score a 41-14 victory for the visitors.

Pre match I presented playing shirts to two players who had graduated from the successful U20 team to  make their Senior County debut.  At the post match meal they also received their county tie from myself.

Kieron Clark receiving his county tie to mark his full county debut


This result sets up a crunch match away to Leicestershire next Saturday with the prize for the winner being a final at Twickenham the following week.

Durham Women end County Campaign with record numbers wearing the shirt

Durham Women end County Campaign with record numbers wearing the shirt


Durham County Women denied next stage of County Campaign after 40 – 5 loss to Lancashire at Darlington Rugby Club.

Clarissa Murphy Writes;

Aside from the first team score, Durham set two ‘first time ever records’ as they fielded a second team and awarded seven players their County Caps.

Pictured: Tara Breslin, Jess Cheesman, Katie Dodgson, Lydnsy Burns, Ali Bell, Steph Maddison and Ursula Hardy with caps


The hosts knew heading into the clash it was going to be the toughest fight yet with Lancashire a confident side with two strong wins on the leader board.

Kicking off the game, Lancashire went straight into their game plan shipping the ball wide at speed trailing the Durham defence across the pitch.

It was only moments into kick off that the Lancashire back line found their opening an used their speed out wide to travel from the half way line under the posts.

Lancashire continued to put same style tries on the board as the hosts defence struggled to match their numbers out wide.

After putting 15 points on the board  to nil, Durham began to apply the pressure needed to slow the Lancashire Ladies back line.

In the pack it was evident the hosts were dominant as they forced scrums back, turned ball over and  drove forward several yards in mauls.

Despite challenging the visitors as the clock ticked, the well drilled side continued to find their way past the Durham Women and over the line.

Seeing in a further four unconverted tries, the visitors had made a good 35-0 head start by half time whistle was blown.

Receiving the first kick of the game, Durham were in clear position for a run at the Lancashire side, taking it wide they crashed the ball in with a quick response to defend the ball.

Durham began working their set piece play dragging in the visitors defence.

Throughout the second half the hosting women demonstrated their fight and passion as they began to fiercely respond to the half time score.

At the break downs both sides had their fair share of quick snaps as for a period of time the ball began to change hands in a yo yo process.

Only having conceded one try throughout the second half it was clear the hosts were used to the Lancashire play and resilient to a repeat performance from the first half.

Continuing to play a forward dominated game, the pack forced the visitors onto the back foot as they crashed the line.

Following a line out in the Lancashire 22, Durham set up a maul and finally rewarded themselves a deserved five points on the board as they drove over the line together.

Despite an opposing favoured score line the atmosphere among the home team demonstrated they were proud and happy to have turned things around in the second half.

After the hosts first try they continued to put their bodies on the line to defend their 5 – 5 second half performance closing the game 40-5.

Pictured: first team after Lancashire game


Before the first team game, Durham County Women saw a second team step out and play a development game for the first time ever.

The game was an opportunity to give the numerous dedicated players a chance to display their talent and wear the County shirt.

Within the team were players from clubs such as Hartlepool Rovers of which the Women have only been playing a matter of months.

Matty Lidster, Durham County Development team Head Coach said: “It is great to see so many women getting involved in playing at representative level.

“It is a real exciting time for Women’s Rugby and Women’s Rugby in the North East.”

Pictured: Durham Development team


Durham Women closed their campaign with seven of the players being awarded their Durham County Cap for the first time ever by Secretary and Vice President John Denham.

Players were from: Jess Cheesman (Darlington RFC), Ali Bell (Darlington RFC), Lydnsy Burns (Darlington RFC), Ursula Hardy (Darlington RFC), Katie Dodgson (Darlington RFC), Steph Maddison (Sunderland Flames) Tara Breslin (Sunderland Flames)

See two team sheets here

Durham County Senior Men one step closer to Twickenham

Durham County Senior Men one step closer to Twickenham


Durham County Senior Men take their tally to two from two after  a 41-14 victory over Staffordshire in the County Championship on Saturday. 

Last week, Durham Seniors opened their campaign as they welcomed Cumbria to Hartlepool Rovers in what turned out to be a one sided affair winning 62-5, while down the road, Staffordshire had lost out to Leicestershire.

John Dove, Chairman of Selectors for Durham County Senior Men said: “With Leicestershire expected to win when travelling to Cumbria it was vital that Durham came back from Lichfield with a victory.

“From this competition we look to try and emulate the County Under 20’s by reaching the final at Twickenham.”

Looking to open the game at a high tempo things could not have worked out better as in the second minute centre Fraser Wilson broke through for the opening score of the day.

Durham played with a lot of confidence and their efforts were rewarded again after just seven minutes as hooker Chris Wood took the score to 10-0.

After just 15 minutes on the clock it was a third score for Durham as Talite Vaioleti finished off some excellent approach work from Wood and Andrew Baggett.

Bagget saw the first ball between the posts to extend the lead to 17-0.

Staffordshire began to find their feet 20 minutes in as they opened their account with a converted try scored by flanker Prince.

In retaliation, Durham hit back at the hosts as Martin Hopley crossed for an unconverted try to lead 22-7.

As the game moved towards half time Staffordshire built up some pressure but it was the visitors who were to score with Wilson again finishing off the move. Baggett’s kick took the score to 29-7 in time for the half time break.

Straight back into play, the visitors proved they were not ruptured by the break as Wilson added to his tally with two tries in the 48th minute and the 60th minute with Baggett converting the second to lead 41-7.

Pictured: Fraser Wilson in action

To their credit the hosts continued to work hard and were rewarded the final score on the board in the 66th minute when a converted try left them trailing 41-14.

Dove added: “On a day when everyone gave their all, the try scoring efforts of Fraser Wilson were the icing on the cake.

“Next week we travel to Oakham to play Leicestershire in a winner takes all event.

“We will be looking to earn ourselves the trip to Twickenham for the final on Sunday, May 28.”

Team that faced Staffordshire

Durham Senior Men set for first away trip in County Championship

Durham Senior Men set for first away trip in County Championship 

Durham County Senior Men hit the road to take on Staffordshire in the County Championship on Saturday. 

Pictured: Durham Senior Men team photo 2016/2017


The game will take place at Lichifeild RFC kicking off art 2.30pm

Last week, Durham made an impressionable start to their County Championship campaign beating Cumbria 62-5 at Hartlepool Rovers.

This weeks hosts, Stafffordshire did not have as good of a start to their season losing 45 – 7 to Leicestershire.

The team to travel to Staffordshire are:

Position Name Club
15 Max Connon Blaydon
14 Martin Hopley Billingham
13 Fraser Wilson Blaydon
12 Peter Evans (C) Billingham
11 Elliott Husband Billingham
10 Andrew Baggett Blaydon
9 Dan Finney Billingham
1 Charlie Purkiss-McEndo Harrogate
2 Chris Wood DMP
3 Ben Parkinson Durham City
4 Tom Johnson Hartlepool
5 Andrew Kirton South Shields Westoe
6 Talite Vaioleti DMP
7 Dan Burns Billingham
8 Danny Dixon Billingham
16 Kieran Clark Middlesbrough
17 Tom Larder Harrogate
18 Anthony Jackson Billingham
19 Peter Youll West Hartlepool
20 Chris Wearmouth Blaydon
21 Liam Checksfield West Hartlepool
22 Ryan Foreman Blaydon


Durham Women prepare for tougest test yet as they welcome Lancashire on Sunday

Durham Women prepare for tougest test yet as they welcome Lancashire


Durham County Women welcome Lancashire this Sunday at Darlington Rugby Club for the final round of the pool games in the County Championship. 


Pictured: Durham Women after 34-5 victory over Cumbria

Clarissa Murphy writes; 

This Sunday will see a record number of women step out in the Durham County jersey as the side are set to field a development squad before the main squad game.

At the beginning of trials and training for Durham County a record number of over 50 women showed interest in playing for the side.

Due to the numbers persisting week in and week out and selection continuing to be a nail biting experience, it comes as a great reward that each dedicated player will get their chance at playing in the jersey this Sunday.

Dave Addison, Durham County Women’s Head Coach, said: “The competition for places has been really fierce and that’s very much down to the developing players really stepping up and putting pressure on the main squad.”

The development squad is made up of players from Hartlepool Rovers, a very new women’s rugby team on the scene, Sunderland University, Sunderland Flames, Acklam, Bishop Auckland and Darlington Mowden Park Sharks.

Matty Lidster, Head Coach for the County Women Development squad, said: “Personally to me, it does not matter what the score is as long as we get a team out and play to the best of our ability.

“Every game is experience and that is what the development side is all about, gaining that game experience and enjoying playing.”

First team Head Coach, Addison added that he is very excited to see the development squad get out and have a game after all their hard work.

Last week, Durham played hosts to Cumbria in a victorious 34-5 match at Blaydon RFC.

Following a slow start for the hosts they came out with six tries and a team performance to be proud of.

Addison added: “I think last week we started poorly by our standards and in the first half we left a lot of points on the field, in the second half we were much better and back to ourselves.

“This week we need to step out with belief that we can produce a positive result and back ourselves 110%.”

In the last year’s meeting with Lancashire, Durham were the half time leaders and in the final ten minutes Lancashire managed to grasp a hold of the score board and steal the win from under their nose.

Training this week has given the Durham Women a chance to assess areas they need to work on and focus on how they can steer the game in their favour Sunday.

“We have worked on lots of new things in our defensive work and also our game management strategy and the players have adapted really well.” Addison said.

Lancashire are currently unbeaten having beaten Cumbria 112 – 0 in their first fixture and Northumberland 51-10 last Saturday.

Although, having secured a losing bonus point and a winning bonus point in the two Durham games, the hosts are sitting second in the Gill Burns Division One, pool one group.

This means that Sunday’s game will determine the winner of the pool as Lancashire sit a catchable four points ahead at the top of the current leader board.

Commenting on Lancashire, Addison of Sunderland Flames said: “This is the toughest test yet,- Lancashire have been on fire, easily beating Cumbria and Northumberland and will be hungry to win the competition after narrowly missing out last year.

“However, because we have picked up the bonus points we now have something to play for and we would never doubt our girls.

“It will take a momentous effort but at least we have the opportunity to go through which others do not have.

“It is a huge incentive for us and it would send out a message to the women’s rugby community about Durham’s intentions.”

The development squad game will kick start the day as they take on Lancashire development for a 1pm kick off, the first team will step out for a 2.30pm KO.

Lidster of Hartlepool Rovers added: “Being able to put out a development squad as well as a first team is a massive step forward in women’s rugby.

“It shows how much women’s rugby has grown in the past few years and it is very exciting!”

The team set to face Lancashire are: 

First team:

1.Katie Dodgson (Darlington RFC), 2. Emily Hunter (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 3. Jess Cheesman (Darlington RFC), 4. Sarah Hall (Darlington RFC), 5. Amanda Hilton (Sunderland Flames), 6. Nicole Irving (Sunderland Flames), 7. Sally Downie (Bishop Auckland), 8. Ali Bell (Darlington RFC), 9. Steph Maddison (C- Sunderland Flames), 10. Lyndsey Burns (Darlington RFC), 11. Chloe Allison (Bishop Auckland), 12. Tara Breslin (Sunderland Flames), 13. Clarissa Murphy (Sunderland Flames), 14. Tara Slater (Sunderland Flames), 15. Ursula Hardy (Darlington RFC).

Replacements: Leah Davies (Sunderland Flames), Suzanne Falconer (Sunderland Flames) Alex Webster (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Amber Stonehouse (Sunderland Flames), Beth Blacklock (Durham University), Kate Byrnes (Billingham RFC) Kirsty Paterson (Sunderland Flames)

Travelling reserves: Rachael Turnbull, Caitie Smith, Emma Quinn, Catherine McCabe, Charmaine Lamb.

Development team:

1.Charmaine Lamb (Hartlepool Rovers), 2. Danni Coulton (C – Hartlepool Rovers), 3. Emma Quinn (Bishop Auckland), 4. Rachael Turnbull (Darlington RFC), 5. Natasha Kennedy (Hartlepool Rovers), 6. Abby Richardson (Hartlepool Rovers), 7. Molly Stonebank (Bishop Auckland), 8. Caitie Smith (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 9. Rachel Frost (VC- Sunderland Flames), 10. Sam Lill (Acklam), 11. Sophie Nash (Sunderland Flames), 12. Zoe Short (Acklam), 13. Jayne Guillaume (Acklam), 14. Catherine Mccabe (Sunderland Flames) Kate McDermot (Sunderland Flames)

Replacements: Kiera Yorston (Sunderland Univeristy), Bethany Randerson, Kelly Thomas (Bishop Auckland), Natalie Wintersgill (Hartlepool Rovers), Claire Napier (Sunderland Flames) Becca Willett (Bishop Auckland), Kirsty Mann (Acklam), Lauren Somerville (Acklam), Lynsey Lormier (Acklam) and Claire Braham (Hartleepol Rovers).

Willers Wanderings: Durham at the top of their game with Cup finals and Twickenham finals

Willers Wanderings: Durham at the top of their game with Cup finals and Twickenham finals


Intermediate Cup Final

As the club seasons have drawn to an end, the club visits have come to a close and it is now busy times with Cup finals and representative rugby.

On Wednesday I travelled to the centre of the county to hosts of the Durham County Intermediate Cup final, Durham City.

The tie saw Gateshead take on Barnard Castle for the Cup, two familiar sides to one another following Barnard Castle’s season in Durham and Northumberland One after promotion last season.

Gateshead had the better of the first half scoring three unconverted tries without reply for a 15-0 lead at half time.

After the break, Barnard Castle came back strong pinning Gateshead down in their own half for long periods. The Barnard Castle pressure was rewarded by scoring two converted tries which brought the score to 15 – 14 with ten minutes left to play.

Three minutes from time in one of their rare excursions into the Barnard Castle half, Gateshead were awarded a penalty kick which was converted to give Gateshead a 18-14 upper hand.

Despite Barnard Castle’s last ditch attempt to get a winning score it was Gateshead that I presented the cup to after the final whistle.

Mention must be made of the large crowd for this match; it is good to see the county cups being so well supported.


Friday was travel day with the County U20s down to the home of Rugby for their County Championship Final against Yorkshire, ready to play the next day at Twickenham.

Pictured: Durham U20s after semi final win over Kent


Match day had arrived and the Durham officials and I were hosted by the Peter Baines, RFU President, John Spencer, Senior Vice President and Chris Kelly, Junior Vice president.

On the pitch before the match the RFU President, the Yorkshire President and I were introduced to the players from both sides and the match officials.

Yorkshire had the better of the first half and lead 8-0 at half time from a try and penalty kick.

Strong defence from the Durham boys meant that the only additional scores from Yorkshire was two further penalties to stretch the lead to 14-0.

Durham where developing their way into the match and with fifteen minutes left on the clock they made their first pass of the Twickenham try line with a converted try.

Continuing to persist, Durham came close on a further three occasions and it was only last ditch tackles by Yorkshire that prevented Durham from scoring.

Yorkshire hung on to the final whistle to beat the gallant Durham boys 14 – 7.

The Durham boys can be proud of their achievements playing at the top level of this championship after only gaining promotion last season.   To reach the final they had beaten Yorkshire in their only home tie and had to make long trips for both the quarter and semi-final matches.

At the post match meal and speeches I was presented with a framed photo of the Durham players and officials that had been taken to mark the occasion earlier in the day.

Pictured: Durham U20s and officals before final

Upcoming Events

  • May 30, 2017
    • RRSC meeting five
      7:00 pm

      The Representative Rugby Standing Committee will once again meet at Billingham Rugby Club

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