The Hertfordshire/Middlesex Merit Tables were created in 2002 to provide all those rugby sides from the Hertfordshire, Middlesex and Buckinghamshire County Unions, which were not playing in the Rugby Football Union National Leagues or other merit tables, an opportunity to play in a competitive structured competition. The clubs are generally located in an area within 20 miles of the triangle formed by the A1/M1/A505.
The teams participating are normally the 2nd, 3rd and 4th XVs of clubs, although several smaller clubs have entered their 1st XVs. The Merit Tables are also used as a starting point for newly formed clubs to demonstrate their playing and administrative abilities before being accepted into the RFU League Structure. In 2013-14, the tables will have grown to accommodate 80 sides, a far cry from the 12 sides that took the plunge in 2002.
The 2013-14 Season was running to plan until the rains came in December and the pitches got wetter and wetter, until we got to 4th January when 27 games were cancelled due to waterlogged pitches. If anyone had any doubts about the state of the grounds, this picture received from Southgate RFC puts it into perspective.
Finals Day - 27th April 2013
2012-13 was one of the most difficult winters for years for players and administrators alike, when games were being cancelled due to some of the worst weather we had seen for many seasons, not only covering the pitches with snow and ice, but a year when just a shower of rain lifted the water table levels. Magnificent efforts were made by all the clubs to get all of their games reorganised, so that by 27th April, when the sun had at last appeared, we had a great day of rugby at the Knock-Out Competition Finals, which were played at Bishop's Stortford and Enfield Ignatians Rugby Clubs.
Twenty-eight teams gathered at the two grounds, along with their supporters, referees and amazing teams of volunteers from the two hosting clubs. Hertfordshire President, Mark Elliott, and Secretary of Middlesex Rugby, Steve Rac, were presenting the season's trophies to all the teams who had won their Merit Tables, plus the plaques and shields to the Knock-Out winners and the Plate winners. Thanks also go to Bryony and Foggy Atkinson for running the show at Enfield, while I enjoyed my afternoon at Bishop's Stortford meeting all those people who give so much to their rugby clubs.
Harpenden and Barnet Elizabethans forwards looking skyward
Taking a dive – rugby style
Southgate players evading tackle and the winners champagne!
Steve and Foggy awarding Plate Trophy to Tring 2nd
Hertford win the Merit Table 1 for the third occasion and win the Table 1 Knock-Out Final
At the end of the day - The Official Photograph!
In the true "Rugby Spirit" Hemel Hempstead, Old Albanians
and the Referee are all friends after the game