Eagles are set for lift off
Elmbridge Eagles team manager Mike McSweeney has admitted the club’s continued success depends on its blossoming youth section.
The Claygate club won the Rugby League Conference (RLC) National Cup grand final in Coventry last month to go with the RLC south east regional cup final they had claimed a month earlier to qualify for the national play-offs.
It completed a season of success for McSweeney’s men, which had started with claiming the south east RLC Premiership title at a canter having lost only one game all season.
Eagles have a first team open age squad containing no less than 15 players under the age of 18 – including England U18 squad wingers Joe and Olly Cripps.
And former Ireland international McSweeney, an ex-London Broncos and Richmond star, admitted the club’s ambitions rest on young shoulders. “These are young kids that have progressed through the youth set-up, this year’s success has been coming up right through that system,” he said.
“We always had aspirations to win the regional play-offs. Winning them was our main aim really, but to carry that through to the nationals was a great achievement.
“While we have some experienced players as well, the challenge for us next year depends on how many of those U18 players will still be with us.”
Elmbridge Eagles – formerly the Kingston Warriors – have led a nomadic existence in the past, but have been based at their own ground in Claygate since 2006, which coincided with the club’s name change.
The club, which recently secured its Clubmark status, have lifted silverware throughout its age group sides and expect playing numbers to swell next year beyond its current 180 player mark.
And chairman Charles Tavener, whose son Alex and Harry Lightfoot-Brown are in the England Knights U16 squad, hopes the success puts the club on the map.
“Rugby League is still very small in London. It still flies under the sporting radar,” he said.
“We’ve always produced good teams at youth level, so this success has been coming.
“People have taken our team of youngsters lightly in the past. Now we are a force to be reckoned with.”