It’s been a long road back to the top end of English rugby for all connected with London Scottish. The opening round of the 2011/12 Championship sees Scottish face a tough and physical home encounter against a Rotherham side on Sunday the 4th September with a 2pm kick off. The Scottish team has been strengthened well over the summer and have been thoroughly prepared during the pre-season by the coaching staff for the up and coming challenges. Make sure you are there and witness history in the making.
Rotherham rugby club was formed in 1923 and moved to their current home ground Clifton Lane in the late 1930s. Since the introduction of league rugby the club has continuously risen through the league structure. In season 1988/89 the club won the North East Division 1 and began their rise up the rugby pyramid. This was immediately followed up by five further promotions in six seasons to propel the club to the fourth tier of English rugby by the 1995/96 season. The club eventually reached the equivalent of the Championship in season 1997/98 and won this league to enter the Premiership for the 2000/2001 season, however they were relegated losing all of their matches finishing last. The following season the club won the Championship equivalent level again, but were controversially denied promotion due to their ground not being considered up to Premiership standard. Since then the club have been a consistent and regular member of the Championship.
The current Head Coach is South African Andre Bester, who is in his second spell with the club. During his previous tenure he coached the club to fourth and runners up in the 2005/06 & 2006/7 respectively at Championship level. This coming season will be Andre's second in charge, with a respectable 8th position achieved during the regular season games. However in the promotion play offs the club only managed to accrue one point from their six matches and led Andre to completely overhaul the Rotherham squad. The club has decided to go full time for the 2011/12 season and Scottish supporters should look out for two Scots who ply their trade in the Rotherham colours; full back and former Scotland A internationalist Gary Law together with 2nd Row and former Scotland age group player Neale Patrick. Another two players who will be well known to the Scottish followers is centre Palepoi Nonu who Rotherham signed from Launceston over the summer and former Tongan internationalist 2nd Row Talite Vaioleti who moved to Rotherham from Wharfedale. Another feature of the Rotherham team is the size and physicality of their pack, which probably will be the largest in the Championship this season.
During pre-season Rotherham played two matches: in their opening friendly they crossed the Pennines to play Macclesfield. This was the first opportunity to gel their new team together and the club sent an “A” team which lost 28 – 21. As always when a new side is being put together it takes time for the team to find their feet. A short time later the club played their second match, which saw them visit Llanelli Scarlets. A full strength team lost 37 – 18. Their final pre-season game was an internal affair, where the ‘Possibles’ played a ‘Probables’ side to complete their preparations.
Rotherham will present a tough challenging Championship opening fixture, however Scottish in their own pre-season preparations have incorporated the new players at the club fully into the side. The forwards have greatly benefited from the input from the new forwards coach Alex Codling. The backs have also looked razor sharp and are ready to set up and face the intensity of Championship rugby. The team as a whole are playing with a quiet confidence and Sunday's match should be a cracker. All Scottish supporters are encouraged to get down to the match to cheer on the team and witness history in the making. See you all at the match and Com’mon Scottish!