RUGBY fans in Chichester are being urged to help roar the city’s promotion-chasers to glory this season.
The Blues have gone close to promotion to the national leagues in each of the past three seasons - and are out to make sure there is no heartbreak this time.
They begin their new London one south title bid this Saturday at home to Brighton and say home support at Oaklands Park will be a big factor in carrying them to success in what looks a tough division once again.
Brighton’s visit for Saturday’s 3pm encounter will itself be a tricky start - the visitors won promotion last season and also collected the national Intermediate Cup at Twickenham. They will be very competent opponents and Chichester will have to be determined to make a successful start in another bid to win promotion to the national league after three near misses.
There are some changes in the Chichester squad and a number of new players have joined the club and shown up well in training.
Despite a couple of men on the injured list already, the Blues feel there is depth in the squad and their fitness and rugby skills are up to the standard required.
London one south is more competitive than ever and all 26 matches will present a challenge.
Geographical distribution of the 14 clubs sees, in Sussex, Chichester, Brighton, Hove and Haywards Heath; in Kent, Beckenham, Gravesend, Dover and Sidcup; in Surrey, Cobham, Chobham, Sutton & Epsom and Wimbledon; in Hampshire just Havant, and in Middlesex, only Staines.
Gravesend and Staines have come down from national three south and will probably be tough outfits. Wimbledon and Brighton are widely expected to be among Chichester’s rivals for the one automatic promotion place and one play-off chance to play at the next level in 2014-15.
The Blues benefit greatly from their touchline support at home and away games. There is a friendly band of loyal supporters who will welcome all newcomers, so others are being encouraged to go along to Oaklands Park and see good rugby in pleasant surroundings.
Director of rugby Paul Colley said: “Preparations have gone well. We’ve mixed things up this summer with some new coaching combination. Bringing in the Royal Marines was all part of our philosophy to keep the guys on their toes.
“We’ve put a lot of hard work into pre-season and have now finished our pre-season games – both the ones and twos had good victories over Salisbury at the weekend.
“Our squad are already going to be tested with a couple of key injuries against EGs last week – big skipper Jon Lindsay picked up a neck injury but hopes to be back shortly and livewire Rich Adams also picked up a knock in that game and may be out for the early part of the season.
“So it’s going to be a test but we’ve have an excellent twos structure and a couple of the younger guys will probably get their chance this Saturday. Please come down and give the guys all your support.”
Chichester will wear their new red shirts this weekend because of a colour clash with Brighton’s Blues.
Colley added: “It promises to be a big Sussex derby with Brighton running hot following national cup and league success last season – their step up into London one south will be an interesting yardstick for the season ahead.
“Chichester have been knocking on the door for promotion for three years running and will look to go one stage further this term but know they start with a side who have momentum with them.”
Who’s who at CRFC this season
Director of rugby Paul Colley
Head coach Rob Lawrence
Attack coach Jimmy Taylor
Defence coach Mike Kent
2nd Team head coach Stuart Anscombe
Strength & conditioning coach Aaron Davies
Asst coaches Paddy McAlpine & Paul Sutherland
3rd Team coach Mike Middleton
4th Team coaches John Sawday & Dave Outen
5th Team Andy Walker
1st XV Jon Lindsay
2nd Martin O’Callaghan
3rd Jack Knight
4th Simon Campbell
5th Andy Walker