Onians hope Allianz Park adventure can kickstart spluttering season
- Credit: Archant
Old Streetonians are hoping the chance to play on the big stage will finally kickstart their spluttering season as they look forward to this weekend’s match at Allianz Park.
Saturday’s game with Fullerians will be played on the European rugby giants Saracens’ revolutionary artificial pitch, and the Hackney Marshes club hope a change of scenery can lead to a turnaround in form.
The Onians languish at the bottom of London North West 3 with just a solitary win against fellow strugglers Hitchin so far this season.
But captain Chris McAtominey said the side are not worried about getting dragged into a relegation battle.
“If you just look at the table then it would appear so, but actually performances have belied that,” he said.
“We don’t have a problem scoring tries and often score first, so it’s not closing out the other teams when we have the chance.
“We’ve also had to chop and change the team regularly due to injury and absences; you can see that it will click at some point and we aren’t worried at the moment.”
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And he thinks the Allianz Park atmosphere might help his side, adding: “It’s going to be a great occasion and a fantastic opportunity to experience something a bit different.
“A lot of the boys are quality rugby players and I’m sure that many of them have thought ‘what if?’, so it gives them a chance to see that side of the game.”
The 1st XV captain is also currently Old Streetonians stand-in coach after stalwart and erstwhile figurehead David Bailey stepped down last month, with Chris admitting he leaves ‘a large hole’ in the club.
“Coach has been and still is a massive influence on Old Streetonians,” he added.
“For many years it was only him driving us forward through his passion for the game.”
But Chris points to a number of senior players, notably Nick Barham and Bast Down, who have stepped up to help plan and take training sessions in Bailey’s absence.
The on-field issues are also in stark contrast from the club’s off-field activities – with a raft of new players joining this season, an art exhibition has just opened at Twickenham’s Rugby Museum celebrating the club’s first 20 years, and the launch of a video extolling the joys of being an Onian.
And last Friday they played host to Basque touring side Gernika at regular post-match haunt the Howl at the Moon in Hoxton.
But Chris admits they need to start seeing improvements on the pitch – with consistency the key.
“We are often the first team to score and always start with great positivity.
“When we can keep that same level going for even 60 minutes, let alone the full 80 - we’ll blow teams in this league away.”
But the captain is keen to get as many people to come along and support Old Streetonians this Saturday:
“The Marshes has a masterfully balanced Chi aura, so even on a cold blustery Saturday we can feel the Onions’ strength flowing through us.
“We’ll need to bring plenty of vessels of that aura along with us on Saturday as I doubt it’s the kind of thing that pro sports teams believe in, unfortunately.”
• Old Streetonians play Fullerians at 2.30pm on Saturday at Allianz Park with everyone welcome to come along and watch. For more info or to get involved click here, and follow the club on Twitter @OldStreetRugby