After two seasons in National League One Ealing gained promotion to the second tier of English rugby for the first time in their history last season. On a historic day for all involved with the club a convincing win against Coventry by a score line of 41-17 sealed what had a been a great season for the London side. Suffering only 3 defeats during the season to Old Albanians, Blaydon and Fylde the London club dominated the National 1 table from the off. Despite scraping wins on a few occasions Ealing rarely looked like they were going to slip up.
Throughout the season they produced some clinical performances to blow other sides away. With derby games against rivals Esher, Richmond, Blackheath and Rosslyn Park providing some very entertaining rugby it gave some of the squad’s most exciting talents a chance to shine. Some of the players for me that stood out last season were the likes of centre Tom Wheatcroft, fly-half Ben Ward, full back Peter Hodgkinson and wingers Owen Bruynseels and Phil Chesters.
Tom Wheatcroft has played for England Counties and his assured goal kicking at creative play making has been a key feature of a potent backline that tore many teams apart. Ben Ward was outstanding at fly half and his leadership of the backline and controlled goal kicking was just one of the many factors contributing towards the London club’s success. A potent back 3 of Bruynseels, Chesters and Hodgkinson regularly devastated teams with their counter attacking ability and scoring some sensational tries in the process. Ealing also had a powerful pack last season pushing many teams back at scrum time and providing a platform for the potent backs to attack from.
Second row Gavin Byron and props Tim Brockett and Tim Tunicliff had great seasons. The club have recently appointed Marco Wentzel as lineout coach and are also in the process of making more signings. For me they need to sign a few more strong forwards if their pack is to compete with other teams at Championship level. At times last season they were dominated in the forwards by teams such as Esher and Fylde. Should Ealing make any more signings to add to what is already a dangerous backline it will just make the team stronger and stronger.
The club has the likes of playing against local rivals London Scottish and relegated Premiership outfit London Welsh to look forward to plus playing last season’s beaten play-off finalists Bedford. The London club start their season at Allianz Park for the Championship double header where they take on local rivals London Scottish. They then face Rotherham Titans in their first away game of the season before returning to Vallis Way for their first home game in the Championship against Cornish Pirates. The club can look forward to what is going to be an extremely competitive RFU Championship next season. They may suffer some challenges along the way but they should enjoy their first season as a Championship club.