Hawks presented with title trophy following final game
HENLEY Hawks celebrated their promotion to National League 1 following their last match of the season
HENLEY Hawks celebrated their promotion to National League 1 following their last match of the season when they were presented with the league trophy.
At the end of Saturday’s home fixture against Dorking, which they lost 34-41, the squad took to the main stand at Dry Leas for a ceremony as they were presented with the Division 2 South crown for the second time in the space of three years.
The majority of the crowd of 865 watched on as Colin Baldwin, the RFU representative for Oxfordshire, presented each member of the team with a medal.
After collecting the trophy, captain David Clements sprayed champagne over the rest of the players as they jumped and cheered and posed for photographs.
The Hawks wrapped up the National League 2 South title on March 28, when they beat Shelford 66-17 at home.
Clements said: “We’ve had an excellent season. From the first day of training the boys have worked hard and stuck together and that’s been the best thing about it.
“We’ve come back from some dodgy times where we’ve been in a difficult spot at half-time but we’ve always dug in and ground out results, which is ultimately why we’ve won the league.
“We learned a couple of lessons last year and I think we need to build on them for next season. It will be hard because it’s a tough league but if we can add a couple more players to the squad then we should be able to consolidate our position.
“The last two games have been a bit difficult because we already had it wrapped up but you only have to look at how many people have turned out today and had a great afternoon.
“Today’s match had its ups and downs — I personally enjoyed scoring a hat trick but it was disappointing that we lost.
“However, we shouldn’t lose sight of what we’re celebrating here today. We’ve won the league and that’s absolutely great news, both for the club and the town in general.”
The Hawks’ head coach Pete Davies was understandably delighted with his side. He said: “It’s been amazing for us. We set out to win promotion and to achieve that with three games to go and by the end of March was a sensational effort from the lads.
“It’s a real club effort — everyone from the players and coaching staff to the supporters, volunteers and admin staff buy into it and I’m really delighted with how well we’ve done.
“We made a pledge at the start of the season to enjoy ourselves and when we scored the promotion we pledged to still enjoy the final weeks of the season, which we have done.
“Training has been great fun as the lads enjoy each others’ company and today’s tight loss won’t dampen their spirits. This group is stronger than the group we had last year so I’m quite confident about next season. We’ve signed 90 per cent of our players and have a strong squad so I can see us being competitive and staying in the league.”
The club held its annual awards ceremony later that day.
Player of the year was Dave Manning, who was presented with his trophy by Davies, while director of rugby Nigel Dudding gave the prize for supporters’ player of the year to Oskar Hirskyj-Douglas. Will Woodward won an award for playing in 100 first team games while Andy Jones was honoured for serving as coach to the Henley Bulls for 100 games.
Hollie Thompson was given an award for serving 100 games as physiotherapist to the Hawks and Bulls squads.
Henley Bulls player of the year was Harry Jackson, Vikings player of the year Charlie Chevasse while the Bears player of the year was Craig Johnston.
Three women were also commended. Coaches’ player of the year was Victoria Anne-Wheeler, the most improved player was Kerry Beech and the players’ player was Annette Tomas