Rugby's return is heralded by Chichester club bosses
At last! Rugby is returning to Oaklands Park.
It’s been a long difficult year or more for everyone, but in challenging times Chichester RFC have not rested on their laurels.
The committee and coaching team have used the time to discuss and plan how to emerge from the pandemic and bounce back for the 2021-22 season.
The core of the senior structure are remaining to drive chairman Paddy McAlpine’s vision for the club forward.
All of the club’s coaches, captains and support team are carrying on as the club emerge back into the light.
Director of rugby Paul Colley said: “My thanks in particular go to Scott Ashley and Mark Norton who have been relentless in their thinking and application during the choppy waters of the past 15 months.
“Pre-season is well under way with good numbers in attendance at training and a real buzz of anticipation as we return to real rugby.
“We will be having two warm up matches for the senior squad, both of which are at home.”
This Saturday Chichester take on Eastleigh from 2pm. The ones and twos will play over a probable four lots of 30 minutes.
Colley said: “Eastleigh have brought in some very experienced players and coaches and will definitely provide a good test.”
The following Saturday, the Blues host Towcestrians (2pm).
A strong Midlands one outfit should also prove a stern test for Chi’s first and second XVs as they build towards league campaigns starting in September.
Charlie Wallace is continuing as first XV captain, Rhys Thompson as vice captain and Joe Woods as club aptain.
The firsts begin at home on September 4 to old rivals London Cornish and the twos, newly promoted to the Hampshire premier, kick off on September 18 away to Millbrook.
The Chi threes have also moved to the Hampshire leagues which the club hope will enable the team to flourish.
Colley said: “Early meetings with the university indicate that we should hopefully be able to draw on some of their cohort across all our sides. We are likely to have a twos/threes warm-up match in early September.”
The Chichester ladies team continue to develop as a team and they have announced joint captains – Emily Charman and Charlie Wolfe.
Colley said: “We are working on a recruitment plan to bring more ladies players into the club. If anyone knows any ladies 18 and over who fancy giving rugby a go please encourage them to come along or contact Jules Boyce, head of CRFC women’s rugby, on 07539 648178.
“The ladies team have secured sponsorship from Cathedral Wealth Management, Kiwi Recruitment and Alikazam which has enabled them to have fully branded kit.
“Coaches Josh Cameron and Tom Bowman continue to work together to develop training plans for the team. They train on Wednesdays and Fridays from 6.30pm.”
From October the ladies will take part in an Inner Warrior Development League with three other development teams. This will give them game time and help them develop and build a solid structure and on pitch dynamic.
Colts rugby is also back at CRFC.
Colley added: “The colts team has been an area of significant focus for last couple of seasons. There have been significant challenges, not least the impact of Covid-19.
“But Iain Collyer has galvanised last year’s under-17s with excellent numbers giving us a core of under-18s for this season.
“The upcoming 16s, now under-17s, also look to have an excellent squad and early signs are promising as we bring together these two talented age groups. With most of the under-16s support structure in place to move up to colts we hope to be competitive in the Hampshire Colts League and have re-entered the national cup, where we had such success a few years ago.”
The aim will be to get the colts playing ‘the Chichester way’.
Colley said: “The first team and indeed the club’s future is directly linked to these lads. Early training numbers have been excellent.”
Anyone under 18 and over 16 on September 1, 2021, who fancies trying rugby or returning to it can attend the club on Thursdays at 6.30pm or call Iain Collyer on 07542 536785 or Andrew Richardson on 07747 847699.
Colley said: “We have a very strong structure across the board – it takes a huge amount of effort from a wide range of people to fulfil our potential.
“The first team in London 1 South have some fascinating fixtures, including the mighty London Welsh, the 2nd XV will host local rivals Bognor in the first home fixture.
“We are now on the long road back – here’s to the return back into the light.”