This Saturday the 1st XV and the Wanderers host Richmond while the 3rd XV entertain Cantabrigians.
Richmond-upon-Thames was originally known as the Saxon Sceon or Shene. Indeed the villages of North and East Sheen are still extant within the borough.
Sheen was for a long time a royal Manor house. Edward I took his court to Sheen. His son gave it to his wife Isabella. She acted as regent for her son Edward III. Once he grew up he extended the house building the first Shene Palace. Geoffrey Chaucer worked at the palace. Its position on the river, nine miles upstream from Westminster but in rural Surrey withgood hunting made it a royal favourite,
In 1497, twelve years into his reign Henry VII held a great Christmas tournament at Sheen - but during the festivities the wooden palace burnt down. First hand reports describe how the King, his mother, wife and their three children had to flee for their lives only just escaping the collapsing roof in one of the corridors.
Aside from the structure, the fire destroyed the crown jewels, many opulent tapestries and cloth of gold bedding. The loss was estimated at 60,000 ducats - millions of pounds in modern money.
Henry immediately set about rebuilding the palace in stone and renamed it after his former Earldom and power base - Richmond, Yorkshire. It was at Richmond the Henry celebrated to betrothal of his daughter Margaret to James of Scotland, the marriage from which the Stuarts trace their claim to the English throne.
Henry VIII gave the palace to Anne of Cleves as part of her divorce settlement. Mary held her nuptials to Philip their and Elizabeth installed some of the first flushing toilets and hunted deer in what is now known as the Old Deer Park. James I, although preferring Hampton Court and Westminster, laid out a new park - Richmond Park.
The Palace did not survive the interregnum, the Commonwealth commissioned a survey and sold the stones off as building material.
Richmond FC are an old club, forming before the formation of the Football Association and though they played the inaugural match under Association rules, against Barnes, they decided not to adopt them and retained rugby laws. They moved to the current ground, the Richmond Athletic Association in 1889. Like London Welsh next door it sits on part of the Elizabeth's Old Deer Park.
Richmond are a large and successful club. They still run five senior men's side, plus Students,colts and vets sides and two women's sides and a full youth set up with over 2700 members.
In the first flush of professionalism, they reached the Premiership, before merging with London Scottish,moving to Reading and then merging with London Irish, who took on the lease of the Majeski. This left Richmond needing to regroup and reenter the leagues at the bottom. We me them in the 12/13 season - the season we were relegated from National 1. We lost both games, the one in Cambridge was a low scoring affair we scored the only try but lost 7-9. However, of the side only Rob Conquest remains in the squad,though Gareth Baxter played at the RAG.
Since then, Richmond went on to reach the championship staying their for three seasons - though they only survived their first season due to the demise of their neighbours London Welsh - before dropping back to National 1 for this season. They may well bounce back as they are currently top of the table - though there are only seven points separating the top seven teams. As we know every team can beat any other on their day.
The Wanderers return to competition against Richmond II - the Vikings. Their last match was against Richmond III - the Saxons- who they beat 19-26 at Richmond.
The 3rds also return after their break hoping to continue their winning ways having won the last two fixtures. They are looking to overturn the 43-33 defeat they suffered at Cantabs Sedley Taylor Rd. ground.