I have to say I have been very heartened by the slow but perceptible progress we are making in terms of our coaching structures and enhancing communication. A recent meeting of coaches and managers from across all sections of the club, really took us forward in terms of how the role that Richard Garrett is doing in terms of developing coaches not only now but the future, was embraced and supported and will certainly have a positive outcome on quality in the future.
The meeting recognised the need for greater communication and the need to ensure that we all support each other in terms of areas like Festivals, training space and ensuring that the bar staff are kept informed so as the organisation of food, staff and maximising our investment here in terms of events can be achieved.
In terms of playing development, I have been working hard to improve our senior men’s coaching team and have previously announced the arrival of Shaun Neaves, whose experience and depth of knowledge will be invaluable in support of Glyn Mitchell who continues for a third year as lead coach.
The development squad will be managed and led in indomitable style by the warhorse that is Steve “Bootcamp” Brown, ably assisted by Steve Fuller and with Dan Adams providing the link between the Development Squad and the emerging youth players. The club believes that Dan is an emerging talent as a coach and as such will be working with him to develop his skills within the development framework.
The ethos of the development squad must be to ensure that they both develop young talent but also support and coach them to improve their performance and enjoyment from the game. The squad must mirror the 1st XV in terms of game style and set moves because as was proved last season those in the development squad will be considered for selection for 1st XV duty and should be looking to push for a place in the senior side from now.
I am pleased to note that I am not aware of any loss of players apart from our Kiwi corner friends, whose visas have expired and this obviously means that their registration as players cannot be renewed. As such and given the financial considerations within the current climate, we will be relying heavily on our existing player base and the emerging youth talent that we are lucky to have at our disposal. I am currently in negotiation with a talented inside centre from NZ, who is currently based in the UK and hope to be able to announce a positive outcome to this soon. Additionally, I do have some other exploratory irons in the fire to seek another player, but it is too early to predict success. Hopefully, anyone reading this who is new to the area and wishes to join a great club, playing good rugby and having fun, will come along – you will be welcome, irrespective of standard, size or shape!!
Given the overall picture as I see it, this is going to be a tough season for all our sides. The Development Squad and Ladies teams are playing at higher levels and will find the challenges formidable. The Youth section is hungry for further success and we appear to be positioned strongly to do well this year. In terms of the Men’s 1st XV, this league will be challenging and we have a competitive start to the season with a Kent Cup game away to Sheppey on the 8th September, followed by our League opener with relegated Thanet Wanderers on the 15th.
I believe, we have the resources, the infra-structure and the desire to do well and off field the team will continue to work tirelessly to grow the club and strive for success. However, success does not come without hard work, commitment and personal ambition. Last pre-season training was supported very spasmodically and the results showed with us losing a number of early games, due to a mix of lack of preparedness and in some cases fitness. If you want to be successful you have to support training, work on drills now when it is warm, rather than trying to put this right in November in the ice and rain. Preparation and hard work at this time, will serve us well as the season unfolds, it is up to you, so let’s see a sense of desire and urgency starting now!!
Finally, I would personally like to thank Nick France for the very kind article recently published in regard to the award of the CBE to myself and to thank all those who have expressed their kind wishes of congratulation. I am truly grateful and honoured and recognise that without the support of others in my professional life and at the Rugby Club, I am so proud of, no award would have been possible.
Thank you. Now let’s enjoy this season and get out and win these damn leagues!!
Vice Chair Playing