Jonathan Landi introduces Enfield Ignatians, a local rugby club with a proud history
Enfield Ignatians just celebrated its 70th birthday and now this most hospitable of rugby clubs is looking forward to the 2019-20 season.
Based at Enfield Playing Fields, the blue-and-golds run three senior sides as well as a thriving junior section which caters for most younger age groups.
Enfield Ignatians were founded in 1949 and their previous homes include Tottenham, Woodford and Winchmore Hill, prior to taking up residence at Donkey Lane in the 1980s where they still play today. Crowned champions of Middlesex Division Four in the 1989-90 campaign, they enjoyed an upward ascent until a 15-year stay at level seven ended with relegation from London Two North-West last season.
Head coach Shane Manning is clearly hoping that Ignatians’ stay in London Three North-West proves to be a short one, and the New Zealander is very much planning for promotion. “Our aim is to get promoted,” he says. “Our pre-season has already started and we’ve had a number of new recruits. It’s still early but I think the club is in a better place compared to a year ago.
“Player numbers [at training] have been fantastic and the young colts are coming through, which is great for club development. Ideally, you want the young guys pushing the older heads for places.”
A key plank of the club’s long-term plan revolves around the second team, which will effectively suck in young talent and operate as a development side in Herts-Middlesex Merit Table Two next season.
Past winners of the Middlesex Bowl, and beaten finalists in the main county competition, the 2008 Middlesex Cup, numerous players from the club have been capped by Middlesex and Hertfordshire at various levels. Further up the scale, Denis and Phil Sanders had spells at Saracens and Wasps, and a future All Black scrum-half, Mark Donaldson, spent a season at the club in the 1970s before national glory beckoned.
Enfield Ignatians have a thriving social scene and loves big projects. In 2013 a 63-strong party successfully toured South Africa and plans are well advanced regarding a 2020 tour of Canada. In 2014 the club also took part in the ‘Big Day Out’ project by successfully transferring all its fixtures into a single-day rugby marathon at Saracens’ Allianz Park, in front of the Sky cameras. You can’t fault their drive and imagination!
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