Following a 17-13 victory over second-placed Barking RUFC, London Scottish FC have been promoted from National League 1 to the Championship for the 2011/2012 season.
A last-minute, 80-metre break away try by leading try-scorer David Howells rescued Scottish after a tense, hard-fought match had looked likely to end with a narrow Barking victory.
Scottish had been reduced to 14 men with only minutes remaining, and heart break had seemed inevitable. Lewis Calder had opened the Scottish scoring after only five minutes, touching down after the Scottish pack had driven forward. However, a penalty try had pegged Scottish back, and with only seconds to go, Barking were three points up and camped in Scottish’s 22.
It took a monumental effort for Head Coach Simon Amor’s men to overturn their underwhelming start to the season, losing the first three matches (including one to eventual promotion rivals Barking). However, a run of 27 successive victories since then, including the last 12 in succession bringing bonus points have propelled Scottish up the table to snatch promotion from a Barking side that were unbeaten in two seasons until today’s game.
It has been a long and winding road back to this level of professional rugby. London Scottish formed a professional side in 1995, and, in the summer of 1998, were promoted via a play-off with Bristol to the top level of English rugby and a place in the inaugural season of the Premiership. It appeared that the future was bright for the oldest exiles team in England.
However in 1999, the Club’s then-owner Tony Tiarks pulled out, effectively rendering Scottish bankrupt and forcing the Club to effectively start again nine leagues below. After a steady rise up through the divisions over the last 11 years, Scottish now find themselves back amongst the top two tiers of English future, and crucially, with a solid business plan under the guidance of CEO Tony Copsey.
Tesco PLC and London Scottish Chairman David Reid was delighted with the team’s achievement: “This promotion was down to agreat effort on the pitch after losing the first three games. To win the next 27 showed great character, consummate with the heritage of this great and proud club. In particular, it was a fine achievement to beat a very good team Barking side in our last match. Credit must go to them.
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Having started again in 2000 from the clubs lowest point in league 10 this incredible journey back to where we belong ,to now gain promotion to the championship is a Herculean achievement by all. So we now need to raise the bar again for the next challenge. We are up for it and dare to dream!”
Player-Coach Simon Amor paid tribute to the team and the supporters: “I am so proud of the whole squad today. This victory is the result of a mammoth effort from everybody: all of the squad, as well as the support team behind them. The team were also incredibly grateful for all of the supporters who made the trip over to Barking today and for their support throughout the season: every single time the team takes to the pitch, we do so with a huge amount of pride and passion for the shirt and for the Club, and with the knowledge that we have a passionate and vocal support behind us.