Thetford RFC have been playing rugby in the Norfolk area since 1959 and have forged strong links with both the RAF and USAF air bases over the years, links that have seen them survive through adversity to this day.
However, they have still suffered from dwindling numbers despite this support and about 5 years ago were down to around 14 players!
Changes were rung and new blood joined the committee to turn things around. Roger Cash and Gary Lee were instrumental in making things happen at this time and their hard work and dedication saw plenty of commercial events take place to raise much needed cash for the club, something many other clubs will relate to!
Thetford Started last season after hitting a plateau when playing in Easter Counties 1 in 2014/15 and then finishing in 6th 2 years running. The 2nds had been relegated from EC3 as they struggled for numbers and experience in the 2015/16 season.
The club with a new coaches (Nigel Brown and Will Martin), captains (Chris Thomas, Josh Clark, Aaron Stokoe) and with Gary Lee still as Chairman approached the new season with eyes of finishing top of the pile this year.
They had some success the previous year winning the Norfolk junior cup final. The season started out well for the 1st XV with 7 wins on the bounce before being beaten by local rivals Wymondham at home. Thetford would pick themselves up again and go on another 7 win streak before that was brought to an end by Woodbridge. The 1sts would only taste defeat one more time again at the hands of Wymondham. With only 3 losses in the season and Thetford scoring 1071 points, the title was won with 2 weeks to spare and eventually an 11 point gap between Thetford and 2nd place Wymondham.
The Heathens had a rough start to the season with numbers sometimes being woefully short as is starting to become common in the area for development sides but with Adam Brown and Aaron Stokoe organising the team, numbers increased and with them the wins started rolling in. By January the Heathens were putting out 20+ players each week and many of those were training hard and representing the first team on a regular basis. The EC 4 title was won with 2 games left and this time with a 6 point lead on 2nd place Norwich 3s.
The Club had secured both leagues and had eyes on retaining their Norfolk Junior cup and reclaiming their Crowley cup from Fakenham. Fakenham had won their league in superb fashion and came out the blocks firing but Thetford prevailed and the Crowley cup came home to Thetford RFC.
This only left one trophy left. The Norfolk junior cup. Having won this the previous year and beating West Norfolk who play in the league above Thetford in the semi-final, Thetford’s hopes were high. In the final Thetford met Wymondham who being the only team to have beaten Thetford in the league twice and finished in 2nd place. Both teams set out with a point to prove and Thetford came out on top setting the record straight and silencing some of their critics.
On the field the club has had a lot of success but there was lots to talk about off the field too. Thetford’s youth section headed by Andrew Soanes and supported by Ian Wallis continues to grow, the club became an RFU accredited club, Bury Saints American football team made Thetford their home the club also became an official o2 touch rugby centre. Thanks must also go to Matthew Duggan and Cory Lewis who have kept the strong links with the local USAF base which has enabled playing numbers to stay strong. Thetford RFC are an out of town club and, like so many other grass roots clubs, have faced many different challenges over recent years to keep the club alive but have proved that with belief, commitment, teamwork and vision there is light at the end of the tunnel and the future is bright . If you wish to get involved please find them on Facebook.