Bognor Rugby Club have announced the appointment of a new coaching team for the 2018-19 season.
Billy Toone (second from left) has been appointed head coach to continue the excellent work he started last season when the first XV finished second in Hampshire one and narrowly missed out on promotion.
Toone attended Felpham Community College and played age-grade rugby for Bognor before starring for eight years in the first team as well as representing Sussex.
In 2010 he joined Chichester to enjoy several seasons of National League rugby before rejoining his boyhood club.
Scott Barlow (third from left) will be Toone’s right-hand man as assistant head coach and he will be bringing his vast experience to bear, concentrating mainly on the forwards.
Barlow, also an ex-student of Felpham Community College, began his rugby career at the relatively advanced age of 23 but, after making his mark in Bognor’s first team, he quickly developed into a strong, high-calibre second row forward.
Like Toone he was a member of George Castleton’s invincible Bognor team of 2007-08 who won promotion to the then London three as well as winning the Sussex Cup.
He moved to Worthing Raiders where he played in National League one while also representing Sussex. He captained the Raiders in his final season before returning to Bognor for a fresh challenge.
Replacing the legendary Lee Balchin as captain will be Josh Burgess (right), a highly-respected stalwart of the first team for several seasons, who is a true leader both on and off the field. This might well be the season when Josh makes a permanent switch from centre to No.8 where he showed such promise last season.
The team will be managed by Aaron Cooke (left) who, ironically, did not start playing rugby until he returned from New Zealand just over a year ago.
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Unfortunately, after displaying huge potential as a prop, Cooke has had to retire from playing after medical advice but he is looking forward to supporting the team in a non-playing capacity.
Both Toone and Barlow are delighted to be back and they are genuinely excited at the prospect of working with a young and talented group of players.
Their targets are to compete for league success while continuing to effect the smooth transition of junior players through to senior rugby. The appointment of 18-year-old Jeremy Newton-Young as second-team captain is an indication of the club’s ambitious youth policy.
In addition to their primary coaching duties it is likely that both Toone and Barlow will continue to display their vast experience as players where it counts most – on the pitch, news that Bognor’s supporters will be delighted to hear.
Training has started at Hampshire Avenue and will continue each Tuesday and Thursday at 7pm. The numbers attending have been very encouraging and Toone is keen to stress that players of all ages and abilities will receive a very warm welcome.
Anyone interested in joining the club should contact Toone at firstname.lastname@example.org or just turn up to training and introduce yourself.