THE youth section at Taunton RFC has now got more than 300 active members on its books from the Under-Sixes right up to the Under-18s.
But the bad weather last Sunday saw not one of them in match action.
With their season about one third of the way through, the break from matches has allowed the club officials to reflect on what has been an excellent start for the majority of Taunton’s youth teams.
Taunton Under-13s, known as Wolves, and the Under-15s remain unbeaten.
The Wolves have won nine of their ten games and drawing the other.
Under head coach John Capstick they have in the process scored 368 points, while conceding just 46.
Their squad of 27 players can present a problem to their coaches in attempting to give game time to everyon, but it seems to be working well so far.
Taunton Under-15s have won all six games, having chalked up 326 points for and just 34 against.
Following nine district games, played between the six districts in the county, seven Taunton players have been selected for the Somerset Squad for the season. Forwards Will Vaughan and Alex Watters, halfbacks Jack Cleminson and Tom Wilkinson, centres Joshua Mynett and Matt Evans and fullback Oli Graham.
Two others, flanker Harry Crocker and wing Ollie Johnson, are in the Somerset Schools select.
The team begin their defence of the County Cup with a home game next month against Hornets.
Like the Under-13s team a great start, but coaches Rob Salter, Julian Graham and Lloyd Marshall are aware that there are tougher times ahead.
Taunton Under-11s, known as the Trojans, are enjoying a great season. They have five coaches, headed by Rob Odams and assisted by Dave Irons, Paul Cuff, Phil Luxton, Paul Hutchings and Malcolm Pressly Smith.
The team are going from strength to strength. The 26 players include a core group who are in their fifth season at Taunton, and several promising newcomers.
To date they have won five of their six games; amassing 209 points for and 50 against.
The highlight was reaching the final of the prestigious Landrover Cup played on Exeter Chiefs ground. The squad are looking forward to their tour in the New Year.
Squad: Oscar and Leon Allen, Josh Alvarez, Ben Luxton, Oli Brown, Dan Irons, Louis Trottman, Christian Jobson, Oli Jones, Charlie Hutchings, Jack Cuff, George Perry, Jack Odams, Ben Pressly Smith, Dylan Green Simms, Ben Highfield, Jonathan Burbach, Lewis, Jones, Morgan Smith, Rhys Concannon, Jack Diplock, Fabian Farbahi, Xavier Elliott, Adam Fielding, Rhys Gratton and Connor Broom.
Taunton Under-12s, the Eagles, are also fortunate to have a large coaching staff — Mike Taylor, Chris Heybourne, Dave Kassapian, Mark Curry and Mark Shirley. The latter two will be very well known to Taunton rugby fans, both former 1st XV stalwarts. The latter for several years as club captain.
The team have won six, drawn two and lost two, and in the process scored 36 tries.
Squad Ben M, Will P, Callum B, Tom W, Morgan C, Nahum M, Dylan W, Iver E, Tyler O, Fergus L, Oli W, Dan T, Oli H, Danny K, Lewis W, Oli B, Andrew P, Ben S, Joe H and Solomon C, along with new players this season, Callum Buchanan, Daniel Trick, Ben Shirley and Francesca Bidgway.
Taunton Under-Eights and Under-Nines both have 100 per cent records.
Everyone at Taunton Rugby Club appreciates the sponsorship from Taunton School, which started this season.
Taunton School has helped with sponsored shirts, provided coaches for away travel, and helped to fund pitch hire for matches.
Headmaster Dr John Newton looks forward to seeing a real impact on the community through the rugby alliance.
"I am proud that Taunton School is associated with Taunton Rugby Club. We both believe strongly in harnessing the skills of young people"
Taunton youth chairman John Wrelton articulates just what junior rugby is about.
"Rugby is a metaphor for life; not only do youngsters get fit, enjoy fresh air, learn new skills and make new friends, but, in the heat and passion of the game they so often learn valuable lessons about themselves,” he said.
“Team play, endeavour and the nature of winning with modesty and losing with dignity are all part of the experience.”
None of this would be possible at Taunton RFC without the expertise and commitment of the coaches and also the administrators of the sides featured including Fern Baker, Mel Vaughan, Theresa Perry and Polly Merigan.
A detailed look at other Taunton youth sides will be published in the coming weeks.