CHIPPING Norton believe they have found the ingredients for success and are hoping to cap a dream campaign with a memorable Twickenham final.

Sitting pretty at the top of the BB&O Championship with 13 wins from 14 games, the west Oxfordshire club have proved too hot to handle this season.

Only second-placed Abingdon have beaten Chippy, who are also just two wins from a Twickenham final in the RFU Junior Vase.

The side have steamrollered the majority of their league rivals – averaging 48 points per game – so how does this team differ from the one which finished fourth the previous two campaigns?

“I think consistency and players which we didn’t have previously,” said captain Tom Goffe.

“Availability has been far better.

“This time last year we went to Farnham Royal with 13 players and now we have a first team squad of 30 to pick from.”

The Oxford Times:

  • Chipping Norton celebrate winning the Southern Counties final of the RFU Junior Vase last month

When highlighting a remarkable season for Chippy, it is difficult not to mention how the club came to find themselves in the ninth tier.

Rewind three years and they were hit by a 25-point deduction for their part in fixing a result.

Then Chipping Norton head coach Andy Dawson, Slough head coach Darran Brown and Oxfordshire referee Rob Hawkins agreed a BB&O Premier fixture between the sides had ended in a 24-24 draw, when it had actually been called off due to bad weather.

The club subsequently suffered relegation, with chairman Patrick Neale declaring they would “come back stronger next season”.

It may have taken two campaigns longer, but under director of rugby Mark Clarke they are moving in the right direction.

“The coaching staff has completely changed since then and that’s another big factor for this year – they’ve been brilliant,” said Goffe.

“From what happened in 2016, there are not many players left.

“The hangover from that is only left with a minority of players.

“It’s more of a reputation thing from other clubs rather than something from ourselves. It’s not like we feel it’s a cloud hanging over us.”

Goffe added: “We’re certainly in the best place I’ve known and this is the best team I’ve played in.

“Off the pitch it has been brilliant as well.

“I think last year we had a few ego clashes which was part of the reason for the unavailability, but it’s not an issue this season.”

Chippy seem to have wiped the slate clean and are fighting on three fronts.

The side host Gloucestershire’s Old Cryptians in the South West Division final of the Junior Vase on Saturday, with a place in the last four of the national stages at stake.

Chippy have also reached the Oxfordshire Shield semi-finals, while league promotion is secured with third-placed Phoenix 35 points in arrears.

While the club have designs on making swift progress up the divisions, Goffe is wary of suffering from a similar fate to the likes of Gosford All Blacks and Littlemore, who have found it tough to adjust to the jump from level 8 to 7.

He said: “That’s the plan (to achieve promotion from the BB&O Premier) – if not next year, then the year after.

“We want to make sure we’re settled first, though, it’s been shocking to see Littlemore have struggled at level 7.”

The Oxford Times:

  • Matty Wheeler has scored 24 league tries for Chipping Norton this season

Certain individuals in the team are catching the eye, with scrum-half Matty Wheeler scoring 24 league tries, while fly-half Dan Lightfoot has contributed 180 points.

Goffe added: “He (Wheeler) has been unreal this year and has set up a quite a few tries as well.

“He’s done really well – we’re a little concerned he might get poached!

“But we actually seem to be attracting players at the moment.

“The Twickenham potential is a huge draw and it does mean we’ve got a headache with selection issues.

“It’s a really exciting time. We’re feeling good about all of the competitions.”