London Welsh RFC are the new boys in the Aviva Premiership, having gained promotion from the RFU Championship following a successful appeal.
Following The Exiles entering administration in 2009 and an attempted ground share with Crystal Palace failed it was deemed that the London Welsh were not a suitable outfit to play in Rugby Unions top flight.
However, following a successful appeal and agreement from the relegated Newcastle Falcons it was agreed that their Kassam Stadium home did match up to league standards.
But the rise to the top of the English game has been a tough adjustment for The Exiles. Losing streaks followed a promising start, and for captain Jonathan Mills the honeymoon period is well and truly over.
He told the London Welsh official website, www.london-welsh.co.uk: “The honeymoon period is over for everyone. Now we’re really going to see just how good every side is in the Aviva Premiership.
Mills continued: “With the weather beginning to close in there’s going to be a lot of dog fights, but we’re up for those matches. If anything it might suit us given the way we’ve played a few times this season and help us get a few more wins, rather than just bonus points.
“The way the games have been going recently in the Premiership they’ve been very tight, so for us it’s just about making sure we end up on the right side of the result, like we did against Exeter.
“However, if you’d offered me ten points after six games at the start of the season, I’d have bitten your hand off.”
“We’re going out to win every game – we’re not looking for bonus points we’re looking to win games. If we take care of our own performance and put right the errors of the last few games we won’t be too far away,” said Mills.
But the London Welsh are a side with great pedigree and boasts a history of producing some of the greatest players to play Rugby Union in this country.
Since the clubs foundation in 1885, some 177 players have graduated to the Wales national team and 43 players made the honorable stop up to the British and Irish Lions squad. Seven London Welsh players were selected for the 1971 tour to New Zealand (a Lions record which remains unbroken to this day), including the tours captain John Dawes (now London Welsh president), JPR Williams, Gerald Davies, Mervyn Davies, John Taylor (now Managing Director and ITV commentator), Mike Roberts and Geoff Evans.
The club, based in Oxford, also boasts one of the longest standing women’s sides in the game. LWWRFC have been a recognized member of the women’s league for over 27 years and are still a largely amateur side. There are London Welsh Women representatives at England Regional Level and on the Wales National Touch team. There is also a popular Mini & Junior Section at the club.
This is a club that prides itself on its family atmosphere and amateur routes, and whilst The London Welsh may be struggling so far this season, but there is plenty of time for this historic side to become a true household name in the manor house of Rugby Union.