CHICHESTER’S rugby players and coaches are gearing up for a new bid for London one south glory - but are insisting: It’s not all about this season.
As well as having a determination to gain promotion to the national leagues at the end of the campaign, the Oaklands Park outfit are also looking towards the longer-term future by developing a group of talented 17 to 21-year-old players who they see as vital to the club’s continuing success.
It’s part of the Blues’ view that progession for a club like theirs has to be about evolution, not revolution.
Chichester begin their new London one south fixture programme on Saturday, September 7 with a Sussex derby at home to Brighton and are now building up their match sharpness with a series of friendlies.
Rugby development officer and first XV head coach Rob Lawrence said: “Pre-Season has progressed well. We’ve had solid attendance for the elite squad. But injuries from last season have over-hung a little. So we’re still awaiting a full squad turnout, but when some of our regular faces return we will be stronger than ever before.
“We have some excellent new recruits but we are a club in a growth period. We are building something quite special but it is important for us as a club that we keep generating momentum, not loosing sight of where we have come from and where we want to get to.”
The first pre-season run-out saw Chichester send a squad of under-23s to Lawrence’s former club London Wasps to play in a tens tournament. They got through to a semi-final, which they lost to London Irish - that after beating hosts London Wasps and Amersham.
They have a Sussex Cup final date with East Grinstead at Crawley on Wednesday evening.
The Blues will take a 30-man squad to Salisbury on Saturday, August 31 - before the league opener a week later.
Before they got involved in match action, one of the initiatives that saw the squad put through their paces was a visit from a group of Royal Marines, who worked with the players on strength and fitness.
Lawrence said: “They gave us an excellent workout and we’re pleased to be strengthening our links with the services.”
Lawrence said there was a lot of emphasis on bringing through young players.
He said: “We have had all of our summer camps now - they were a great success. And we are launching an internal academy.
“This comprises about 15 players aged from 17 to 21 that we have identified as talented athletes and players who we wish to develop for the club’s long-term future.
“We are looking for additional sponsorship for this scheme to allow bursaries, kit, additional training and support for these scholars.”
Meanwhile, the strength and conditioning side of things has taken massive strides forward, with a new gym opened at Oaklands Park that people can join for only £50 a year.
Lawrence said: “This is another way in which the club are trying to get new members involved with CRFC from all areas.”