When thinking about ‘the invincibles’, you might think of superheroes, or Arsenal’s title winning team of 2003.
Stadium: Clifton Park
League: Yorkshire Division One
League Position: 1st
Head Coach: Lee Denham
Club Captain: Chris Fox
Most tries: Toby Atkin (17)
Most tries: Jon Dawes (182)
But York now has its own team of invincibles… the green and white force that are York Rugby Union Football Club.
The club from Clifton are top of the Yorkshire Division One Rugby Union League, having won all, yes ALL, of their 15 matches so far this season!
Although they are at level seven in the rugby union pyramid, the strides made by the club epitomise the positive rugby spirit in York right now.
York look almost certain to achieve promotion to the North 1 East league. They hold a 13-point lead over second placed Scarbrough and will look to make it 15 with a victory at the seaside club on Saturday.
A working project
Despite the crisp cold evening, a warm atmosphere surrounded Clifton Park as the players arrived for training on Thursday night (Jan 11).
Coming off the back of a 38-15 victory over Wheatley Hills at the weekend, the lads were buoyantly spirited as they charged onto the training field on Thursday evening.
So, what is the biggest secret behind their incredible winning run?
Club captain Chris Fox and first team Captain Sam Forbes have been a huge part of the club’s upward spiral in recent years.
Fox, 28, has been at the club for over a decade since joining as a Colt in 2008.
The full-back identified good coaching, team spirit – and plenty of beers!… as the key ingredients for the team’s success this year:
It’s been a bit of a project over last two years. The new coaching team came in and it’s worked wonders on and off the pitch.
They’ve done really well to get a few key positions filled. Everything else comes with team socials.
There’s a good team spirit off the pitch, plenty of beers!
Teams that drink together, play well together. There’s no clicks and everyone are just really good mates.
– Club captain Chris Fox
On a smartphone? Scroll horizontally to see the full table
Forbes meanwhile, is a fairly new face at the club. After joining from Hull Lonians in 2016, the 26-year-old became captain after just one year at the club.
The outside-centre has high aims for the team, but thinks it will take time for the team to adjust to higher levels of rugby should the side win promotion.
“Going up would be fantastic, but it is very much just one week at a time.”
“We’ve certainly performed on the bigger stage in the past and we’ve got players in the squad that have played at a much higher level.”
“But we need to get there first. We’ve looked at other teams around us such as Bridlington and West Leeds who have gone up and done well, so we want to emulate their success”.
– Sam Forbes
First team captain
Rugby is booming in York right now. There are a large number of local rugby clubs with extensive youth development programmes, epitomising grassroots sport in the city.
York RUFC have over 300 junior players, managed by 50 qualified coaches. The club are regularly represented at County level and have provided players to the U’18 and U’21 National sides.
This system feeds the senior level at the club, which has over 100 players across four teams. That includes a social team acting as the fourth’s, offering a great development platform for junior players moving into senior rugby.
First team Head Coach, Lee Denham, hailed the rugby spirit at all levels in the city, as one of the main reasons his own side are making strides this year.
The 43-year-old is in his third season as York boss, having previously had a long professional playing career with the likes of Worcester and Sale.
At the level we are, you can’t buy an atmosphere like what we have.
Obviously we’re performing on the pitch and we’ve got a really good support of sponsors and fans alike. They come down to talk to us and understand the positive style of rugby we’re trying to play here.
There’s lots of rugby in York right now. It doesn’t matter what level you play at, if you are looking to get better, you’ve got clubs like ours, who have 2nd, 3rd and cavalier 4th teams, where you can do that.
– Lee Denham
Mind the gap, Scarborough
Scarborough RUFC vs York RUFC
Silver Royd, Scarborough
Saturday, Jan 13th KO 2:15pm
There are 2,000 spectators expected to turn up to York’s blockbuster game away at second placed Scarborough on Saturday.
York smashed the seasiders 56-7 when they visited Clifton Park in September. However, Scarborough are the green and whites’ closest competition and may prove to be the table topper’s trickiest test yet.
The head coach brushed off any big build up to the game though. It is more a case of the chasing pack upping their game to try and knock York from their winning pedestal, but Denham is ready for that.
I’m not one for big-upping a game. All of our Yorkshire one games are big games.
Teams want to beat us. It’s like a big cup game for them. Wheatley Hills threw everything they had at us last Saturday.
Yes, it’s a big game, but we’re 14 points ahead of them so it’s not a season decider. I want an unbeaten season, I think we have a team that will make that a reality.
– Lee Denham