This Saturday the 1st XV entertain Rotherham Titans. The 2nd XV host Rams II from Reading, while the 3rd XV head to Bury St Edmunds.
The changing nature of the South Yorkshire town can be traced through the site of the Magna Science centre. The first building we know occupied the site was the Roman fort known as Templeborough. The initial fort was built in the first century AD within twenty years of the Romans landing and it was occupied for over three hundred years until just before the legions left to defend Rome.
William the Conqueror was not good for the North. The Harrying of the North was an attempt to starve the remaining supporters of the Anglo-Saxon and Danish claimants. By the 12th century the land was under control of Roche Abbey in Maltby. After dissolution the land was sold to the Raresby family who built Ickles Hall using stone from the Roman fort.
In the 1700s iron works appeared next to the river Don, using the river to power trip hammers used to forge large components. The railways demanded a lot of steel and Hampton and Radcliffe built a new mill. Business was good - until a customer went bakrupt leaving them with excess stock. The company of Steel Peach and Tozer took over the works. Steel and Peach made their money in gambling, Peach in beer. But they knew steel would increase their fortunes. Tjey replaced the Bessemer furnaces with Seimens open hearth furnaces - which are more controllable and can accept scrap as part of the input. Originally they concentrated on rails but in 1916 the demand for munitions led to huge expansion subsuming the Roman site and Ikles Hall.
After the war the company became part of United Steel Corporation. It survived the depression and boomed again in the second war. Nationalised by Atlee and privatised by Churchill - it switched to the more efficient electric arc process. Nationalised again in the 1960s as British Steel production peaked in the 1970s. Privatised as by Thatcher it survived until 1993 when the furnaces were finally shut. However, using Millennium money the site was reborn as the Magna Science Centre. A 12 minute pyrotechnic display - "the big melt" recreates the sensation of pouring steel from E furnace - one of 14 on the site at its peak.
Rotherham Rugby club was founded in 1923 - a good year. They were never a fashionable club and so were placed well down the leagues when they were formed. Any resentment they felt was channelled into winning promotion eventually reaching the Premiership in 2000 and 2003.
However after 20 seasons in the top two leagues they suffered relegation to National 1 last season. This season having suffered a major change in personnel, they started slowly. Then they knitted together and had a good run, but since Christmas they have won two games - home to Esher and Moseley. They have lost their last three games. The Blood and Sand won at Clifton Lane - overturning an 11-0 half time deficit to win 14-25.
The 2nd XV take on the Rams second team. Redingensians were the old boys of Reading Grammar school - but like many other such clubs went open to being in new players. They adopted the Rams as a nick name from the supporters on the towns coat of arms. This season it was adopted as the clubs formal name, partly because people could not spell Redingensians and also to clearly differentiate themselves from their neighbours Reading RFC.
The 3rd XV travel down the A14 to visit Bury St Edmunds. Bury are second to North Walsham and are scoring freely, 180 points in their last three matches. So it could be another tough day at the office.
The club will be showing the Scotland v Wales game and England v Italy games on the big screen. For those who stay to watch, there will be an extra discount of 10% at the bar after 16.00.
Updated 19:16 - 7 Mar 2019 by Marcus Streets