Following the euphoria of the stunning play-off victory at Sale FC at the beginning of May which saw the club clinch promotion from National Two South, it’s noses to the grindstone now as the Old Boys get ready for unquestionably the most testing campaign in their 106-year history.
However, it’s a challenge the players and coaches will relish, according to Director of Rugby Gavin Lach. “Last season was quite incredible, capped by a day at Sale FC that I will never forget,” Lach said. “But now it’s time to draw a line under that, it’s old news - we need to focus completely on the job in hand, which is being competitive in National One.
“It is a massive test facing us, but I’m confident this group of players that we have, boosted by a sprinkling of significant signings, will be up to the challenges ahead. We certainly don’t intend to go into National One just to make up the numbers.”
Lach admits preparations for the new season started the day after the play-off victory and he is delighted to have concluded his business so early in the off-season once again. As always, however, at this early stage of the summer, the OEs boss is keeping his cards close to his chest.
“I know most other clubs are announcing new signings,” he said, “and I realise supporters always want to know about new players. But at this moment in time, I prefer to go under the radar a bit and go about our business quietly and without fuss. It’s a policy that has worked well for us in the past and I see no reason to change it.
“As a coaching group, we decided at the end of last season that, first and foremost, the players that got us to National One are in possession of the shirts and they should be given every chance to show what they can do at the higher level.
“The signings we have made, which I’m delighted with, will strengthen us in certain key areas. We will announce them nearer the start of the season, but they all have very good pedigrees.”
To ensure they hit the ground running for the first National One game at Esher on September 2nd, the club have announced their strongest pre-season schedule to date, culminating in a tough fixture against Championship side Richmond which will take place at College Meadow on Saturday, August 19th (kick-off 3pm).
“There was a feeling among the coaches that we needed as tough a test as possible before the start of the season to prepare us for what’s to come,” explained Lach. “It will prove to be a good reality check in many ways to play a quality side like Richmond and a barometer as to how far we’ve progressed.”
Saturday, August 5th – Inter-Club game (ko 11am)
Aug 10th to 13th - Training Camp in Galway Bay
Aug 12th – Galwegians v OEs Extra 1st XV (ko 1.30pm)
OEs 1st XV v Connacht (ko 3pm)
Aug 19th – OEs v Richmond (ko 3pm)
Updated 11:09 - 21 Jul 2017 by Jon Edwards