03/11/23 | General

Presidents Welcome – Saturday 4th November 2023

Author: Varun Maharaj

Once again, it gives me enormous pleasure to welcome you to Beechwood for our 8th league fixture of the season. I would also like to extend a very warm welcome to Saturdays visitors, Hull Ionians RUFC.

I make no apologies for beginning this week’s Welcome with some thoughts following the recent death of Sir Bobby Charlton. “With his passing, a little piece of England dies too,” said Martin Samuel in his obituary. Bobby Charlton occupied a rare place in a list of sporting greats whose name, like Muhammad Ali, Pele, Messi or Maradona, you could mention to a stranger on the other side of the world and immediately form a connection with that person in doing so. His achievements on the pitch set him apart from not only his contemporaries but also those that have come after him. However, the characteristic that I think really made him unique was just how humble he was (and remained) notwithstanding what he had accomplished during his playing career, which can best be illustrated by the following story.

At the height of his powers he was described by a respected journalist as England’s greatest ever footballer. When asked about that, Sir Bobby appeared embarrassed and said “Well, he’s entitled to his opinion”.  RIP Sir Bobby Charlton, Born 11 October 1937; Died 21 October 2023.

So, to our visitors today. Hull Ionians RUFC was formed in 1989 but have a rich history which pre-dates that formation because the Club came into existence following the merger of Hull and East Riding RUFC with Ionians RUFC. Hull and East Riding were formed in 1901 but had links with Hull that went back to at least 1875 and Ionians RUFC was formed in 1926. The club has played in the upper echelons of regional rugby throughout its history. In 2012/13, the club won National 2 North and were promoted to National League 1.

Unfortunately, National 1 proved too big a step for the club and they returned to National 2 North at the end of the season but were promoted the following season, playing at the third level of English club rugby for the second time, where they remained for the following 3 seasons (2015 to 2018).  However, 2018/19 saw Hull Ionians back in National 2 North but won that league (again) and returned to National 1 for the 2019/20 season. Due to the Covid pandemic, the club returned to National 2 North in 2021/22 finishing 6th that season and 3rd last season.

But, like Lymm, Ionians haven’t had the easiest of starts to this league campaign and currently sit in 9th place, having won 3 of their 7 games, which includes a 36-23 victory over Wharfedale in their last game before the recent 2-week recovery break.

Lymm’s last league fixture saw them lose at Otley, 45-34 but like so many of our games this season, it could have ended differently.  Having been 26-3 down after only 18 minutes, Lymm found an extra gear that Otley had no answer to and going onto the final third of the game were leading by 3 points, 34-31.  We then spurned 2 penalties and Otley subsequently scored two converted tries to snatch victory.  But there are signs that we are adjusting to the demands of playing at this level and we have to remain optimistic that we continue that trend. To quote Helen Keller, “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement; nothing can be done without hope” so in Northern Soul parlance, let’s Keep The Faith!

All that leaves me to say is that I wish both teams today the best of luck and look forward to meeting you pitch-side and afterwards in the bar for some warm Lymm hospitality.

Varun Maharaj, President 


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