Former England ace Richards praises Raiders

Peter Richards in his playing days at London Irish
Peter Richards in his playing days at London Irish

FORMER England rugby international Peter Richards has heaped praise on Worthing Rugby Club and backed their plight in National 1.

The versatile former Wasps, Harlequins, Leicester, London Irish and Gloucester scrum-half was a spectator at Roundstone Lane for Raiders’ 25-19 defeat against Esher on Saturday.

Richards, who has 13 England caps, is a close friend of Worthing head coach Kieron Dawson and was impressed with what he saw at the weekend.

From watching their performance against Esher, the 35-year-old believes Raiders will be fine in their search for safety in National 1 this season as long as they keep picking up points in each game.

He said: “It was the first time I watched them play and having been a part of Esher before, no doubt Esher are probably the best team in this league, so to be 19-10 up with 20 minutes to go, I thought was a fantastic effort.

“In the first half, Worthing played without the ball for a lot of the time and defended heroically, but unfortunately, I think just that first half defence took it’s toll on the team and in the last 20 minutes Esher were able to sneak away with a couple of tries.

“The sin binning didn’t help but the team can take a lot out of this performance although it’s a loss, it’s against arguably the best team in the league and no doubt Esher know they have been in a game.”

Richards was forced to retire from rugby in the summer of 2010 due to a back injury, and is currently coaching at his former side London Irish and working for BT Sport.

He is confident that as long as Raiders keep picking up bonus points they’ll be in a good position at the end of the season. He said: “I think, obviously it’s a culture shock for the players moving up a league as the quality in this league is a lot harder than it was in National 2 South last year, but the way Kieron is trying to play the game, very expansively, it’s one of the first games they haven’t got a bonus point here for scoring four tries.

“The important thing is, although you’re not winning every game, you’re picking up points and keeping your match tally ticking.

“Last week they picked up two points on the road up in Northumbria and another here against Esher, so it’s not all doom and gloom, obviously a win would have been brilliant but picking up points in every game is crucial. Come the end of the season if you are picking up points in every game, you’ll be in a good spot.”

The former England man and Dawson, who were housemates when playing at London Irish, held a Q&A session with dinners at the match before Saturday’s match.

Richards was quick to praise Roundstone Lane and added: “It’s my first time here and I have been thoroughly impressed. We had a lunch before and it’s been a lot of fun, just seeing how many people are out here bearing in mind it was raining most of the morning, the turnout is fantastic and although Esher brought a few with them, I’m sure the majority of the fans are home grown.”.