IF perfect preparation breeds success, Spalding RFC are in for another impressive season.
The big kick-off to the new Midlands One East campaign may be nearly two months away, but Town are already two weeks into a gruelling pre-season fitness schedule.
Led by specialist strength and conditioning coach and St Mary’s University College graduate Hamish Munro, who has also been working with Peterborough United, Spalding will spend six weeks getting themselves into peak physical condition.
And having discovered a winning formula at the back end of last season, which saw Spalding stave off relegation on the final day, talismanic captain Harry Sharman is keen to hit the ground running this time around.
He said: “We made an OK start last year, but lacked any kind of game plan and it showed with our results.
“But I sat down with (coaches) Ben Hausermann and Niall Thomson mid-season and discussed the way forward. I think that showed after Christmas and results improved massively.
“Continuity is also key. If we’re to be consistent, we need our best players on the field in every game.
“I believe in this group of players and I don’t think too many changes are needed to make us very competitive.
“Getting Hamish on-board was something we were very keen to do. He adds a lot of experience on the fitness side and we’ll reap the benefits.
“It’s hard work, but it’ll be worth it when the new season starts.”
Town get their season under way against Ilkeston on September 1, but aim to get a few friendly fixtures under their belt in late August.
Sharman expects to add a couple of new faces to the squad in the coming weeks, but is unable to announce any confirmed captures just yet.
There has been one significant change though, with Tom Duerden replacing Rob Lucas as vice skipper.
A regular in the first team since the age of 17, Sharman feels Duerden is a natural leader – and reckons the change in roles would benefit both his and the team’s development.
“Tom’s one of the first names on the teamsheet,” said Sharman, who also broke into the Town team as a teenager. “But you can also tell that he’s a leader on the field.
“Rob struggled a bit last year and was happy to step down, while Tom seemed to be pretty honoured to be asked to be vice. It’ll do him good.”
Blooding new talent is top of the agenda at the Memorial Field this year, with the club keen to bring the junior and senior sections closer together.
The club’s Colt section, which is headed up by respected former skipper Andrew Branton, is now fully integrated with senior training – meaning close to 60 players are put through their paces on Tuesday and Thursday nights (7pm).
New and established players alike have been attending the sessions – but any others interested in playing rugby this season are free to go and try out at the club’s St Thomas’s Road base.
Sharman added: “The big aim this year is integration. By having the Colts training with us, it closes the step up they have to make when they join the first team.
“It’ll be tough for some of the younger lads, but will help their development no end.
“The club can now offer rugby from under-seven level all the way up to the first team. The sessions so far have been busy, but worthwhile.”
Next year, the first team will continue to play in Midlands One East, with the seconds again placed in the Midlands IPA league.
The club is also planning to regularly field a third team, while junior rugby this season is to be known as the ‘Development squad’ and will comprise of under-16s, under-17s and under-19s.
These players have already been making use of Munro’s fitness training and will have their first full session on July 24. Mini rugby will also commence on September 2.
Anyone interested can either go down to the club, visit www.spaldingrfc.co.uk or contact Kevin Wand for any details on 07771 735948.