Almost three decades of steady progress came to fruition when Tottonians RFC were crowned kings of rugby union in Hampshire.

Totts capped years of hard work by beating a formidable Havant side on their own patch to secure the prestigious Hampshire Challenge Trophy – which has replaced the Hampshire Cup.

It was not many years ago that family-orientated club Tottonians would have been out of place in a competition that had been dominated by a handful of county teams. Both Havant and Basingstoke had won the cup 14 times during the last 35 seasons.

Havant had home advantage for the floodlit game that was played in atrocious, wet and windy conditions. But they were out-played fair and square on their brand new artificial pitch by a determined Tottonians squad that went on to chalk up a 22-8 victory.

Delighted chairman Paul Searle, just one of a committed team of volunteers who have orchestrated Totts’ rise throughout the leagues since the early 1990s, had nothing but praise for the team that celebrated long into the night.

“I’m just so happy for the boys and the coaching team. They wanted it so much and they knew it could be a once in a lifetime opportunity for some of them.

“It was just fantastic and I felt really happy for them. To play they way they did in conditions like that was absolutely fantastic,” said Searle who took on the role of chairman in 1997, a year after the opening of Totts’ new clubhouse.”

He added: “I just see this result as us establishing ourselves as being one of the premier clubs in Hampshire. We are no longer a local town side, we are an established side that plays good quality rugby and can compete at the highest level in the county.

“What we want is other teams to do what we have done because Hampshire rugby will be better for it. If we had us, Gosport, Eastleigh, Havant and Portsmouth all competing in London 1 it would be fantastic.”

Tottonians, who had three players in their line-up who had earlier spells at Havant RFC, were in command throughout the game and turned their possession into points for a 17-3 half-time lead.

They went in front when centre Josh Andrews got the ball over the line and moved on to 10-0 when player/coach Gavin Hart – a former Havant Number 8 – touched down.

Nick Jones was next to get over the whitewash and Rich Comer – later named Totts’ man of the match – added the extra two points.

With victory in sight Totts took heed of an emotional half-time team talk and defended their lead with determination after the break. Frank Bagnall brought up his side’s fourth try before the home team got a consolation try in the closing minutes. That came while Totts were down to 13 players with yellow cards shown to Ali Ramus and Richard Buck – both one-time Havant players.

Totts skipper, prop Nathan Burns, said: “This was the best result I have ever had as a player and it is a huge honour to be captain in a game like that and I am so proud of everyone.”

The result was also a welcome milestone for loyal Tottonian Ken Johnston who is in his 40th year of being president – he was the lone spectator who refused shelter in the stand during 80 minutes of torrential rain.

“It was the manner in which we won that excited me,” he said. “The winning margin could have been even wider but it was our defence that performed so well in spells during the game that won us the match.

“This is a major trophy to win and puts the club on a high that I hope will give them confidence for the rest of the season.”

The victory earns Tottonians a game against Bournemouth later in the season in a cross county challenge match.

Tottonians: Tom Bayford, Nathan Burns, Danny Drake, Gavin Hart, Ali Ramus, Frank Bagnall, Nick Jones, Jack Owsley, Harry Dolbear, Rich Colmer, Scott Rogers, Bart van Herwijnen, Josh Andrews, Richard Buck, Andy Herriot. Cameron Flint, Phil Smith, Matt Austin, Josh Raqio.