St Albans seeks to be "Hertfordshire's premier community." The Old Albanians Rugby Club can justifiably be described as Hertfordshire's premier rugby club.
I always enjoy visiting the magnificent new pavilion at Woollams for lunches or dinners. Recently I was a guest of Geraint John at the annual lunch to celebrate the Mini and Junior rugby programme of the club, held before the OA's dished out a 34-15 thumping of great Hertfordshire rivals Bishops Stortford. The St Albans forwards are pretty fearsome - you only need to see the team photo to realise that!
My own snatched picture from the pavilion balcony captures one of the moments when the visitors' backs seized the initiative and are on the verge of scoring their first try, before the OAs asserted their dominance over the rest of the game. The statistics for the Juniors and Minis are truly impressive. 500 local families are involved, parents and children. I am told by Brian Clark of the club that there are about 450 "minis" - ie under-12, and 300 juniors - ie under 17. Between 80 and 90 percent of them turn out each week, supported by 150 volunteers. It is truly local and of course captures enthusiastic children from all the local schools, even if the roots of the club are in St Albans School itself.
More information can be found on the www.oajrfc.com website here. At a time when there is so much concern about growing obesity rates and diminution of sports opportunities in schools, it's great to see this centre of excellence right here in our own community.