Fiercely competitive: Horsham RFC expect testing league season
Horsham Rugby Club can’t wait to begin a league season they believe will be fiercely competitive.
The Green and Whites are aiming to build on their seventh-placed finish in London one south in their last full season – but admit the league’s line-up will be testing.
Horsham lost 50-21 at London one north side Southend Saxons in a friendly last Saturday – their first game for nearly 18 months.
The whole senior squad had a runout as coaches tested new combinations and gave several young players their first senior game.
There were two tries from MoM Jordan Bell and one from Sam Roskell on debut. Jake Fisher added the extras on two occasions and Bell converted one of his own tries.
Horsham have two home warm-up fixtures in the next week. Ealing Trailfinders Academy visit on Saturday and Brighton next Thursday.
Head of rugby Nick Stocker said everyone at the club was looking forward to the campaign.
“We are on the home straight and the excitement is building nicely across all the club’s teams.
“Throughout the enforced break, the players have been outstanding in their commitment to training and each other, a togetherness that bodes well for the campaign ahead.
“London 1 South is fiercely competitive, with teams investing heavily in their squads.
“Our first season in this league following promotion saw a credible seventh-placed finish with a home grown squad securing some notable wins en-route.
“Ahead of the season we have seen minor readjustments in terms of league boundaries – we see two recently relegated teams join the league and have five promoted teams from the leagues below, all of whom will have been recruiting heavily.
“Alongside perennial top three competitors Medway and Camberley, we will face the likes of London Cornish and London Irish alongside more local competitors Chichester, Guildford and Haywards Heath.
“With relegated teams Guildford and London Irish targeting a return to the National Leagues alongside usual contenders like Camberley and Medway it will be a long slog from kick off on September 4.
“Perhaps the pick of the opponents and most vocal as to their aspirations are London Welsh.
“There will be many teams in the mix for honours and some of these more ambitious sides will slip up.
“We intend to make Coolhurst a very tough place to visit, secure wins on the road and create a few shocks.
“We are looking to build on the seventh place finish last time around.
“While we’ve been away, we have been busy developing our team on the field and off.
“In April, current Harlequins professional Ross Chisholm was appointed performance coach to add further expertise to a well-established coaching team.
“Former London Irish and Saracens player Adam Halsey has an expanded coaching role with the services of our own “professor” Richard Bell retained to ensure the usual staple of exciting attacking rugby is maintained.
“We develop new coaches and have commenced the coaching journeys of two former skippers with National League experience, Richard Tredgett and Jamie Redmayne.
“We have retained 95 per cent of our team that finished seventh and have added quality through recruiting and players graduating from junior rugby or returning from university – players like Taylor Morris, who joined from Worthing, and George Jeavons and Austin Emens, both of whom have graduated from the Colts and were until recently with Harlequins Academy.
“Along with players like Andy Gray and Will Bell returning after injury and exciting backs James Keyworth and Oli Joels, we have seen a surge in competition for places.
“With a continuing focus on developing exciting talent, young second row Will Farthing will prove a real handful.
“The team retain their youthful exuberance, and having learned from the experience in London 1, are primed for the challenge ahead.
“Visitors to the club will notice a tremendous amount of change with development of facilities taking place alongside the installation of a fantastic new scoreboard.
“Together with the buzz provided by a very active mini, junior and ladies’ section, the club is most definitely a vibrant place to be.
“If you are a player looking for an ambitious club that still believes in the community spirit of the game, you would be welcome to join us.”
by Richard Ordidge