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9th September 2009 SPORTING NEWS FROM ROSS-ON-WYE...................
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After 60 years absence the Ross Elite coxed four has won the coveted West of England Challenge Vase. This is one of the oldest and most prestigious rowing events outside of Henley regatta. It was last won by the Ross club in 1949, however Phil Davies, Steve Randell, Roland Robinson, Anthony Dixon-Gough, along with cox, Morgan Baynham-Williams wrote themselves into the history books with an emphatic 5 length win over Hereford in the final. Hereford were beaten by Worcester in the semi final however they were awarded the race after it was a judged that Worcester encroached on their water and impeded them. The scene was therefore set for the Ross crew, coached by Malcolm Pobjoy to regain a trophy last won by the club just after the end of the second world war!

The Ross crew were imperious in the execution of their race plan, with a perfect course delivered by cox Morgan, the race was all but over by half way, as the crew had established a 3 length lead. The crew were determined to deliver the ultimate in results and continued to moved ahead of the Hereford crew. At the finish, the Ross crew were ahead by 5 lengths and posted a 7 second faster time than the disqualified Worcester boat. Rapture would be the best adjective to describe the Ross camp as the crew disembarked and then proceeded to the presentation ceremony, joined by their indomitable coach who commented 'I am delighted for the lads who have worked extremely hard to earn this result.'

The West of England Challenge Vase is the premier provincial trophy for open coxed fours; this was the 120th time that it has been competed for. The trophy is a magnificent William IV vase purchased in 1877 by the committees of the regattas held at Bath (later Saltford), Worcester, Tewkesbury, Hereford, and Shrewsbury. Tewkesbury dropped out in 1900 when the last regatta was held there and Gloucester was admitted in its place in 1930, presenting a silver plinth to mark the occasion. Saltford Regatta ceased to exist in 1971 and was replaced by Bristol Regatta. Competition for the trophy has since 1877 taken place at each participating regatta in sequence, with the exception of the war years 1915-1919 and 1940-1946, together with 1904, 1906, 1968, 1972 and 2008, due to flooding. The Vase has been won both by provincial and metropolitan club crews, many of which went on to win national and international honours.

This season's crowning moment was proceeded by yet another performance landmark. Pippa England racing in Wj12 single sculls won the clubs 100th event for the season. This incredible feat would have been considered incredulous just a few years ago for the Ross Club. It is a testament to the amazing progress made that 'Little Ol' Ross' can notch up this incredible number of wins since 1st May. Pippa and the Elite fours win, was added to by 5 other wins from the Junior Academy. The squad picked up Wj12, Wj13, Wj14 double sculls, J13 double sculls, Wj15 coxed quads.

Club Captain Ian Howell said, 'We are running out of superlatives to describe the performances of the squads this year. It is amazing to think that just a few short years ago the Club would have been pleased to win couple of events each year. We will continue to build upon this success with all squads now looking to step up yet another level. The club is well positioned to spring to even higher levels having established such an excellent performance platform in 2009.

Steve Randell, Phil Davies, Roland Robinson, Anthony Dixon-Gough and Cox, Morgan Baynham-Williams and coach, Malcolm Pobjoy with the coveted Vase.


With the new league season only a week away, Ross took the opportunity to continue their pre season games with an away fixture against a strong Glamorgan Wanderers outfit. With Gloucester Old Boys first up in the Gloucestershire Premiership, Ross were looking for a stern test to ensure they were ready for the new league campaign and in Glamorgan Wanderers they found a skillfull, well drilled outfit who eventually ran out comfortable winners at 35-7.

After a shaky start that saw them 5-0 down within a few minutes, Ross settled down into what was a high tempo encounter. Glamorgan looked to move the ball at every opportunity and put a huge amount of pressure on the Ross defence. However, for the middle 30 minutes of the half they held firm, with significant contributions from Tara Barnett, Bas Parker, Luke Gray and Chay Brine.

As the half progressed, it was Ross that dominated possession and territory. Twice scrum half Huw Bellamy just failed to put his winger away after breaking from the ruck and Gareth Holdsworth just failed with a penalty after Glamorgan were penalised for not releasing the ball in the tackle. With jumper Matt Jones securing quality lineout ball and the midfield running strongly, it was Glamorgan who had to pull out all the stops defensively. However, as the half drew to a close, Ross were dealt a double blow as twice Glamorgan broke out from their own half to score two late tries and went in 15-0 ahead. If Ross were going to make a game of it, they had to open the scoring early in the second half.

Unfortunately, Glamorgan proved too strong early on in the half and two quick tries killed off the contest. Ross still worked hard in defence and attack, however, with both forwards and backs looking to offload the ball. Once again Glamorgan had to dig deep to stop Ross opening their account and on a number of occasions their efforts were illegal. Ross refused the kicking option, preferring to keep the ball in hand. However, even with Ali Rees, Casey Morgan and TC Leech proving dangerous with ball in hand, Glamorgan were able to blunt any comeback.

With the clock running down, Ross did finally open their account. From another strong scrum, no.8, TC Leech broke clear. He was tackled 20 metres out but prop Wayne Williams drove the ball to within 10 metres of the try line. Another two quick rucks took them within 5 yards and finally Huw Bellamy darted through the defence to score under the posts. Simon Gwynne converted and the ref brought proceedings to a close.

Next Saturday, 12th September, Ross open their Gloucestershire Premiership account with an away fixture at Gloucester Old Boys. Kick off is at 3pm.

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