Stags all set for Junior Vase final at Twickenham

Buxton players celebrate the win that took them to Twickenham.
Buxton players celebrate the win that took them to Twickenham.
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Buxton RUFC director of rugby Karl de Groot says the club’s players are in high spirits ahead of their historic trip to Twickenham on Saturday.

The Stags will play Old Cranleighans from Surrey in the final of the RFU Junior Vase having been crowned winners of the Midlands competition in March.

They go into the game in the best possible form having won every match they’ve played so far in a season which saw them romp to the Midlands Four East (North) title, and de Groot says the first job has been to get the players back down to earth.

He said: “We’ve had to peel them off the ceiling this week and had a meeting where we talked to them and got them back down to earth and focused on the job in hand.

“We’ve had an incredible season but it won’t be the case that they’ll turn up and just expect to win. They’re well grounded lads and that’s something we’ve been keen to instil in them from the start.”

The match at Twickenham will kick-off at 11am, with the team travelling to London on Friday evening before a very early start the following day.

De Groot added: “We’ve scheduled a team meeting at 6.30am, which raised a few eyebrows amongst the lads, especially some who are students as the only 6.30 they usually see is in the evening.

“But everything from the kick-off time to the early start and the venue adds to the unique nature of the day and it’s something I’m sure they’ll all embrace.

“It’s a strange time to play as we’re the first of four finals being played on the day but we’ll do all our physio at the hotel beforehand as there won’t be much time once we get to the stadium.”

Buxton’s opponents play at the same level of the rugby pyramid but in the Surrey 1 section of the London and South East Division. Their players are drawn from the alumni of Cranleigh School, an independent village boarding school in the Surrey village. They too have won their league, finishing 12 points clear of their nearest challengers.

De Groot said: “It’s been hard to find out too much about them despite doing as much research as we could, but to be honest it will all be about what we do on the day and if we play our usual game we know we can win.

“They will be a good side though given they’ve won their league so we know we’ll have to be at our best.

“As long as we prepare as well as we possibly can that’s all we can really do. We’re travelling on Friday, the lads will be in bed early and there will be a phone amnesty too so as there are no distractions on the day. It’s all about being as professional as possible which is the kind of ethos we’ve always had here.

“They’ll all be kitted out in blazers and it will be a fantastic occasion but we are absolutely going there to win, no question about it, and not just for the day out.”

Buxton will have a full strength squad to choose from, something de Groot says has made selection very difficult.

He added: “It’s a nice problem to have in a sense but we have a squad of 28 players who will travel and only 22 of them can be named, so they know some will miss out but the occasion will be a great experience for them even if they don’t play.

“Training has been intense and our squad depth has been key to our success, so there will be no excuses for us if we don’t come out on top.”