Club Profile: South London Storm

Last Tackle is delighted to be involved with your two clubs and this game, how have your club been preparing for the encounter?

Pre season has been a joint effort between both the first team (RLC Premier) squad and the ‘A’ team. The two squads working hard together to make sure they are in the best shape possible to start the new season. We have a London League game the week before and all our pre season matches have been full squad games so the ‘A’ team will be in as good a shape as the first grade and will no doubt involve the grand final winners from last year but also possibly due to good recruitment some of the RLC premier finals winners from last year also.
Is the “national” tag something which excites you and your players?

Aboslutely. Everyone wants to be a national champion. The players are well up for the game, they would have loved to do it last season but time was no ones friend. The players are either from the north, Australia or London and know the tradition of the game from the north as such to give us a chance to test ourselves against them is something most are looking forward to.
Does the trophy provide an extra incentive for your club to win this match?

Trophies are always good to have and it will be nice to have as it will up the “occasion” of the day and gives the day a bit more of a grand feel to it.
Could you perhaps give a little more information about how your club was founded?

South London Storm, originally named the “Saints” was formed in the summer of 1997. They were accepted into the fledgling London League, and in their debut season they finished a creditable third in the Second Division behind Kingston and St Albans.

The name of the club was changed to South London Storm and they were accepted to rapidly expanding Rugby League Conference (RLC) for the 2000 summer season.  

It was a real baptism of fire for Storm in the RLC, only managing a couple of wins during the 2000 and 2001 seasons, as the club set about raising the profile of the sport in this corner of the capital.

2002 will be remembered as the season where South London met Bedford Swifts in the RLC Shield Final, where they treated the large crowd and the Sky TV cameras to an exhilarating display of running rugby. Storm ran in ten tries in a runaway 54-2 victory. To cap the season the club was awarded the prestigious RLC Club of the Year award.

South London were admitted to the newly formed National League Three division in April 2003 on the back of the previous season’s success, narrowly missing out on the Play-offs in both 2003 and 2004 seasons.  With increasing player numbers, the club entered a second team in the RLC, and employed the first full-time Rugby League Development Officer in the area, accelerating the junior development program started by volunteers in 2000.  Under the South London Storm “umbrella” are the three junior feeder clubs formed – the Croydon Hurricanes, Thornton Heath Tornadoes, and the Brixton Bulls.

South London Storm were in 2004 awarded the Active Sports Club of the Year award from 400 participating sports clubs signed up to the Active Sports program, the biggest sports development program in London.  The club also embarked on a historic tour to Australia – the first British Rugby League team to tour Australia since 1997.

Storm were admitted to the newly created RLC Premier League for the 2005 season and appointed the promising young coach, Rob Powell as Director of Coaching . The season proved to be an extraordinary success with the club winning its first round Challenge Cup match and the first team winning all but one game during the season, laying the platform for the RLC Premier Grand Final victory.

The team lost in the national semi-final against Bridgend, the competition’s eventual winners, but the season ended on a high by beating the other 85 clubs to the RLC club of the year award for 2nd time in 4 years.
On-field in 2006, the First Team defended their TotalRL Rugby League Conference South Premiership with a win over Ipswich, before triumphing in the National RLC Premier Grand Final over East Lancashire Lions – the first National title held by a London rugby league team.  The Second Grade held off Luton to win the London Amateur Rugby League title.  
These achievements were further recognised by being awarded BBC London’s Non-Professional Team of the Year at BBC London Sports Awards and the RLC Team of the Year. Also Alan Emerson and Rob Powell were nominated as Player of the Year and Coach of the Year, respectively.

BBC London’s Non-Professional Team of the Year 2006
TotalRL Rugby League Conference National Champions 2006
TotalRL Rugby League Conference South Premiership Champions 2006, 2005
London League Champions 2006
TotalRL Rugby League Conference Club of the Year 2006, 2005 & 2002.
Active Sports Club of the Year 2004
TotalRL Rugby League Conference Shield Champions 2002
In what competitions does your club compete?

First team compete in the RLC Premier South and the ‘A’ team in the London Amateur Rugby League. We have 4 Junior clubs, the Croydon Hurricanes, Addington Lightning, Brixton Bulls and the Thornton Heath Tornadoes who are in the London Junior Leagues and play various friendlies and tournaments against other London junior teams
What are your expectations for the upcoming season?

The RLC P first team are looking to consolidate last year, a new coach and a few new players will hopefully help keep the team fresh and we are looking at another grand final appearance in the South being a good season after the last two. The ‘A’ team is much harder to judge, changes to the league structure and the nature of an ‘A’ team make it a hard league and another grand final appearance would be a good result with the expectations probably set at the play offs.

What are the long term goals of the club?

The long term goals are more concentrated on the juniors. We want a first team with the majority of players coming from one of the Junior clubs and the ‘A’ side being split between what are now Junior clubs so one day each will have a senior side feeding into the Storm. This will give South London a strong footing in Rugby league and in London but this is of course some good way off but it’s a great aim.

Are you hoping that your club will perhaps be a key player in establishing the sport in your area?

It is already a Key Player in South London with the Junior clubs and we want this to grow. Winning the BBC London Amateur Club of the Year beating off some great Rugby Union, Cricket and Football side along with some strong athletics and rowing clubs was a great achievement and goes someway to proving the strength we have and hopefully this will be able to be leveraged well in the future. South London has a great deal of help from Quins RL and the people involved but will hopefully be the focal point for all RL in the Croydon and South London area for all those aspiring to RL professionally with the route then open to the Quins and Skolars beyond. 

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