CHICHESTER Rugby Club’s start to life in the National League is giving fans sleepless nights – because it has been so superb.
The Blues won promotion to National three London south east at the end of last season, earning their first-ever attempt to establish themselves at this level.
Three weeks in, they look like old hands at the higher level having recorded victories over London Irish Amateurs, Civil service and old London one south rivals Guernsey.
The latest victory against the men from the Channel Islands saw Chichester come from 19-14 down to win 54-19 with a top-class second-half display which some said was the best rugby ever seen at Oaklands Park.
It’s a perfect start that’s put them second in the table and has exceeded the expectations even of those who expected them to hit the gorund running afer such an upbeat end to last season.
Now, though, they are focussed on making sure their momentum does not peter out. They visit Tonbridge Juddians this weekend before hosting early leaders Westcombe Park at what will be a buzzing Oaklands Park on October 4.
No-one is prouder at the scintillating opening to the campaign than chairman Keith Martin – who points out many of the squad are locally-raised lads.
He told the Observer: “It is not easy to measure yourself against clubs you have rarely or never played before.
“Last year we knew all our opponents and their strength and weaknesses so we could work out a game plan.
“My coaching team have done a superb job in putting together a side who are structured and very fit but also play with a pace which is a joy to watch.
“Many of the squad are Chichester-educated boys and this is a real bonus in creating a team ethic and bond.
“The next run of matches against Tonbridge Juddians, Westcombe Park and East Grinstead will be a real challenge and give us a more accurate idea of where we stand.
“The first three games have certainly entertained our large crowds and the second half against Guernsey last Saturday was so spectacular that Roger Gould, who writes the match reports in the Observer, felt he wouldn`t sleep that night.”
Martin said the feelgood factor extended to the whole club, not just the first XV.
“The club are buzzing with the second team making a strong start in the Zoo League and the third and fourth teams defeating Worthing in their respective leagues,” Martin added.
“Our exciting clubhouse extension has started and the mini and junior section are in full swing.”
He had a simple message to any locals who had not been down to Oaklands Park but who were tempted: “If you have never watched our first XV play, give us a try. You will be delighted with the standard – it’s much better than going to Twickenham.”
Director of rugby Paul Colley was also delighted by Saturday’s third win in three – but is anxious to keep everyone’s feet on the ground atthis early stage of the campaign.
He said: “This week we took on a physically-powerful side with lots of experience in their backs.
“What pleased me the most was our ability under pressure to keep playing and for many of the players to really step up both in defence and attack.
“There’s a long, long way to go but the guys have shown that we can compete at this level.”