MATT Williams needed a few seconds to find the right word to sum up the first half of Chinnor’s debut season in the third tier.

“I’ll give you two,” he replied. “‘Enjoyable’ and ‘frustrating’”.

For a neutral, National League 1’s new boys have offered thrills, spills and plenty of excitement.

In their last 14 games, eight points has been the highest winning margin, while late drama has become the norm.

It has done nothing for the director of rugby’s nerves, but he would not have changed it for the world.

“I’ve definitely gone greyer and I feel like I’ve put a further two-stone on,” said Williams.

“But we’re in this game for exactly this.

“Each week is a rollercoaster and I tell my players to be a bit more controlling with what the rollercoaster is, because my wife would like a week of sanity once in a while.”

Promoted from National League 2 South via the play-offs, Chinnor did not take long to make teams sit up and take note.

Victory at Plymouth Albion on the opening day sent out a message, while many a feather has been ruffled as they find themselves comfortably in the top half of the table.

The Thame-based side have even set the pace in a division which remains grippingly tight and they are only nine points off the leaders in sixth ahead of this weekend’s final round of fixtures before the festive break.

The majority of last year’s squad were retained and while they have more than passed the test, new faces have helped to deal with the step up in quality.

One player in particular who has caught the eye is Craig Holland, who has scored 13 tries.

And it has been the decision to switch the former Cornish Pirates star – who started the season on the wing – to fly-half in the absence of the injured Caolan Ryan which has proved most profitable.

“He is a maverick player and having him at No 10 is a gamble, but it’s worked out for us,” said Williams.

“The amount of tries he has scored where he has taken the ball into a one-on-one situation and skinned someone with his footwork is phenomenal – he adds a whole new dimension of threat to the team.

“Opposition teams don’t like it when the fly-half attacks the line and he backs his ability.”


  • Craig Holland (centre) celebrates a try for Chinnor Picture: David Howlett

But that word frustration still lingers and owes a lot to their form at Kingsey Road, where they have only won three of their seven games and drawn thrillers with Rosslyn Park and Old Elthamians.

A four-match unbeaten run at home, which includes back-to-back victories over Sale and Esher, suggests the side are building a platform.

Turning their ground into a fortress was the mainstay to Chinnor’s progress in the division below, but Williams knows it could be difficult to master in National League 1 due to the attacking nature of visiting teams.

“We’ve got to go back to seasons gone by,” he said.

“People didn’t like coming to Kingsey Road because they knew they were going to be in for a battle, and would come away with bruises.

“The problem in this league for coaches, and what makes it so exciting for neutrals, is teams just play rugby away from home.

“Games become a spectacle and we’ve got to be able to nullify that.

“We’ve got to be more streetwise and a lot of that is down to defence.”