A second-placed finish last term exceeded all expectations at the club, including those of OEs Director of Rugby. But with the retirement and departure of several experienced players, Lach has moved quickly to fill the gaps in his squad.
Lock Adam Preocanin and prop Alex Rogers have both retired from playing and will join the club’s coaching staff next season, while centre Kieran Moffat has left the club after two exceptional years for a 12-month spell playing in Portugal before returning home to New Zealand.
Dom Lespierre, who cannot commit to another season in National One due to work and family commitments, and the club's second longest serving squad member Renford Bennett have both joined local rivals Westcombe Park.
However, Lach has confirmed 15 new signings, four of those having already featured for the club last term.
Forwards Cam Holenstein and Adam Batt who both arrived from Championship club Jersey in the second half of last season, have signed permanently for the 2019/20 campaign. They will be joined by former team-mate, ex-Wasps and Loughborough University centre George Eastwell who comes to College Meadow after three years in the Championship with the Islanders.
Two players who played in the club's Extra 1st XV after Christmas, St Mary’s Academy and ex-London Irish hooker Charlie Burman, and former Leicester and Jersey fly-half Oliver Bryant, who starred in the Kent Cup final victory over Sidcup at the beginning of May, have also penned permanent deals.
Lach has strengthened his front row options with the signings of three props - Luke Boon, who won two BUCS titles with Hartpury and was in their Championship squad last term, Cornish Pirates loosehead Tom Concu and Bath University and London Irish prop Austin Hay who can play on either side of the scrum.
Experienced hooker Jared Saunders joins from London Scottish having also made 23 appearances in the Premiership for Saracens.
Ex-Edinburgh, Ospreys, Rotherham Titans and Rovigo lock Perry Parker (pictured) arrives at the club having spent last season playing in France with Stade Dijonnais, while Lach has also recruited experienced back rowers Ed Milne from relegated Championship club Richmond, and New Zealander Leigh Thompson who played last season for Nuneaton in Midlands League One having previously had a successful career in New Zealand and Spain with North Shore and VRAC respectively.
The club continue to benefit from their strong links with Exeter University with the arrival of exciting full-back/winger Saladin Bell and Exeter Chiefs Academy fly-half Ted Landry, while Nottingham's Championship winger Alex Goble, a product of Eastbourne College and a former England Counties representative, completes the list of new signings.
“I always try to get as much of my business completed as early as possible in the summer so we know exactly where we are at going into pre-season,” said Lach, “and I’m delighted with the quality of the signings we have made, which is the right blend of youth and experience.
“Obviously we were disappointed to miss out on the Nat One title but to finish second in only our second season in National One was a tremendous achievement by everyone involved and undoubtedly exceeded all our expectations before the start of the campaign.
“We achieved this with the vast majority of the squad that got us out of National Two three seasons ago. This group have been together for a while now and they’ve been absolutely fantastic for us. But it’s a fact of rugby life at this level there there will be new arrivals and departures season on season as with every club, and the new players we have brought in will give us fresh impetus and inject new life into the squad ahead of what will be our toughest National One campaign yet.”