Cup fever has again gripped Droitwich as the town’s rugby club close in on a second trip to Twickenham inside a year.
Twelve months ago Droitwich were beaten by Farnham in the RFU Senior Vase Final. This year they are just one game away from another Twickenham final having reached the semi-finals of the RFU Intermediate Cup.
Droitwich won the Midlands Intermediate Cup earlier this month when they won at Whitchurch in the regional final and they will now host York, the North champions, in the national semi-finals on March 31 (3pm).
It will be a second successive home semi-final for Droitwich, who beat Tarleton from Lancashire in last season’s Senior Vase semi-finals, and victory would give them chance to banish the memories of their defeat by Farnham.
“We always want to do the best we can but we are also quite realistic. Getting to another semi-final was not something we planned but are very excited about the opportunity,” said Droitwich captain James Shewell.
“Maybe last year we felt that we had already won by getting to Twickenham and we perhaps didn’t give the final enough respect. But going there and seeing Farnham lift the trophy made us wish we had won the game. That’s something we wouldn’t like to pass up again.
“We don’t know too much about York but they have only lost one league game so they are in good form. It’s another difficult game but we are delighted to be at home having had to go to Whitchurch. We are quietly confident that we can beat any side at home.
“There’s a buzz around the town. We went to see a couple of our sponsors after we won the Midlands Cup.
“Everyone is excited. There are a lot of people organising a day out at the rugby. It’s a big day for everyone involved in the club. The mini and junior section will be there in force and they will be playing curtain-raisers and providing the ball boys.”
Prop Shewell, like most of the Droitwich squad, is a product of the club’s successful mini and junior section and enjoyed a spell with Bromsgrove before returning at the start of last season.
With number eight Phil Horton also re-joining from Bromsgrove and player coach Pete Knight, who lives in the town, arriving from Dudley Kingswinford as player/coach as part of a new coaching team headed by director of rugby Adam Drew, Droitwich romped to the Midlands Three West (South) title last season.
They expected to have a season of consolidation in Midlands Two West (South) but are on course to claim that title too to add to the Midlands Intermediate Cup and their only defeat this season came against Whitchurch in the North Midlands Shield.
“The core of the squad is similar to last season. We have stuck together. It would have been easy to draw a line at the end of last season but the journey has carried on which is quite remarkable,” Shewell said.
“I think we are seeing the benefits of the minis and juniors. But even Pete Knight lives locally. So we are very tight-knit. We enjoy each other’s company socially as well as on the rugby pitch.
“When a few of us arrived back together we felt we owed it to get Droitwich back to where they should be.
“We thought we would do well in the league but we never quite saw this coming.”