Fri 11 Oct 2019 11:11

This Saturday the Blood and Sand are heading off to Canterbury, the Cathedral City in Kent. Before anyone mentions Rochester - although it still has a Cathedral and a Bishop, it lost city status when the City Council was merged into the Unitary Authority of Medway and the outgoing Rochester councillors refused to appoint the necessary Charter Trustees.

Canterbury sits on the Watling Street from London down to the ports of Dover, Lynne and Richborough - which gave it strategic importance to the Romans and later to the Anglo-Saxon or Jute kingdom of Kent. Pope Gregory sent Augustine to convert the English and he picked the old Roman town as site for his cathedral.It became the senior church in England.

Thomas Becket was Archbishop until he fell out with his former friend Henry II. Thomas had been a political appointment, Henry had hoped to control the church through him, but he stood up for its values - and for that was struck down by four knights and so achieved sainthood.

The shrine attracted pilgrims. So much so that when Geoffrey Chaucer sometime bureaucrat, poet and possible spy was looking for a framing device for a group of tales - he invented a party of pilgrims to tell them.

Canterbury were founded in 1926 and claim to be the first side from East Kent to have reached the National Leagues. The split either side of the river Medway dates back to Anglo-Saxon times. Blackheath and Eltham although now in London were in Kent but West Kent as is Westbourne Park now relegated.

Canterbury were promoted into National 2 South in 2006. We first crossed swords with them in 2013. We lost at Canterbury that season 8-3 but have won every other encounter including a sixteen try 56-49 victory the following year which must have been great for the crowd but cannot have pleased any defensive coaches watching.

Having come second in National 2 South last season, Canterbury gained promotion by defeating Chester in the play off match.

This season they started off with home games against the Kentish Men, losing to Old Elthamians and by a single point to Blackheath. At trip to Rosslyn Park and a visit by Sale and a trip down to Devon to take on Plymouth all ended in defeat and leaving them one of the two sides without a win. Their only points coming in that game against club.

With the Kentish Men stuttering this is has to be the opportunity for the Blood and Sand to get the season back on track. The Wanderers will also take on the Pilgrims.

It is Canterbury Rugby's 90th birthday - so they will be celbrating. The Caterbury Ladies are playing at 12:00. There is a beer festival and food from 13:00.

Do not forget it isthe '80s disco at Volac Park from 1930. There will not be food but tickets on the door are now only £5.

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