Walsham all set for new season

THE all too short summer break is rapidly coming to an end for players, coaches and officials at North Walsham Rugby Club and the preparations for the new season commence.

THE all too short summer break is rapidly coming to an end for players, coaches and officials at North Walsham Rugby Club and the preparations for the new season commence.

Already there has been a players' meeting at which lead coaches Nick Greenhall and Tim Malone spelled out their thoughts and aims for the coming campaign.

Having spent last season in the lower reaches of the table and finishing ninth the target this time around is for a place in the top four.

Having renewed their commitment to the club by signing new contracts Greenhall and Malone introduced the players to the newly-appointed director of rugby, Jamie Warner whose role will be to work as a link between the coaches and players and club officials.

This, says club chairman John Farrer, will allow the coaches to get on with the job they are employed to do and at the same time allow himself to concentrate on the running of the whole club, without getting involved in the on field activities.

Training started again this Tuesday at 6.45pm at Scottow. The initial work will be on building fitness after the break and all players are urged to attend in future weeks, whether they have aspirations to play competitive or social rugby.

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Although the London Division of the RFU announced recently that with the demise of Halifax there would be a restructuring which would involve Luton moving sideways into Midlands One and Haywards Heath, relegated at the end of last season being re-instated the situation is still unresolved as it is believed that five clubs have protested against the re-organisation and the RFU is holding a meeting to make a definitive ruling.

The coaches have arranged a varied pre-season programme over the eight weeks leading up to the start of competitive action which should, if the fixture list is confirmed, start with a home game against Sutton and Epsom. The build-up starts with twice-weekly sessions at Scottow before the players go on a training camp from July 24 to 26.

Some more light-hearted activities take place at the Southwold beach rugby tournament on August 1 and then it is straight into pre-season games. Newly- promoted Lowestoft and Yarmouth will bring a squad to Scottow on August 8 and the following Saturday Walsham head off to Bury St Edmunds. August 15 sees the first team travelling on their own to Ampthill while the Raiders/Warriors entertain Fakenham.

The final pre-season games will be 15-a-side, 80-minute games for both Vikings and Raiders against their opposite numbers from Southend, at home.

Although many of the successful Warriors side, winners of the Norfolk Merit Table at the first attempt, will be involved in the pre-season warm-ups they have no serious competition until September 5 when they go to Cambridge to take part in the Heineken 10s.

The Raiders, who had a disappointing season with several games cancelled, are looking forward to a more competitive campaign this time around as they have been entered in a new Canterbury Shield competition in which they will play the second strings of all bar two of the Vikings opponents on the same day with both teams travelling together. This should save costs, improve team spirit and increase competition for places.

They will have dedicated coaches working alongside Greenhall and Malone with Justin Loveridge, who has been masterminding the hugely- successful touch-rugby series running throughout the close season coaching the backs and Andy Hargrave looking after the forwards.