Hornets looking forward to first season of National League rugby
- Credit: Archant
Hornets start their season with a pre-season friendly against Clifton on Saturday.
HORNETS Rugby Club is ready to emerge from a busy pre-season when they kick-off the biggest campaign in the club’s history with a pre-season friendly against Clifton on Saturday.
This season sees the club playing in National League 3, the highest level the club have ever played at.
Following relegation four years ago, the club embarked on a five-year plan to re-build the club from within. The plan revolved around using the strong local membership and wealth of home grown talent.
The aim was to do this through a combination of pushing the club’s successful juniors through to the senior teams and at the same time bringing some experienced players back to the club - Phil Hogarth’s return proving a catalyst for the plan to gain momentum.
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The ambitious plan has become a reality with the membership of the club significantly increased, the club facilities currently being enhanced by means of an investment of more than £300,000 and Hornets’ young home-grown squad preparing for the serious business of representing the club in the National League.
What is pleasing for all involved at the club, is that the success on the field has been achieved with a largely home-grown team. Most weeks last year saw at least 15 of the 18-man match squad being made up of players who had played in the mini or junior section at the club.
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Even more impressive was the young age of the team - the average age many weeks being below 24.
Following Hogarth back to the club over recent years has been Sonny Haines, who gained experience at Taunton, Jack Gadd from Bristol and a further six or seven young players who enhanced their rugby experience at Filton College, before returning to their home club.
Alec Chase, having led the club for two successive league winning campaigns, continues his successful role as head coach, supported by Gadd and the additional support of John Richardson.
Sean Kent also continues in his role as club captain, a role that has provided great leadership for the young squad on and off of the field.
This second team squad will be packed full of the successful Hornets Colts squad who have seen much success over recent seasons under the guidance of Andy Francis and Richardson.
The coaching team, who continue to build their own reputations, have also called on various guest coaches to bring variety to pre-season.
The most notable being Bristol’s new forwards coach Danny Wilson, a product of Hornets juniors himself and Bristol’s young full-back Auguy Slowik, taking the backs for a kicking session.
This seasons Colts team are already benefitting from returning players and this year the squad, which is already 28 members strong, will see Andy Fido returning to a coaching role at the club.
With so many youngsters available this season it also bodes well for the third team squad who are looking forward to another enjoyable.
Hornets are also proud to have a successful and growing ladies’ section. The senior side finished second in the league last season and will be hoping to go one better this year.
With a girls’ side now in place at under-13 and 15 age groups, the future looks bright for the ladies’ section as it does for the club as a whole.
The next two weeks see the first team take on strong opposition in pre-season matches at Clifton and Chippenham, before the first league match away at Newton Abbot on September 6.
The first home league match will be on September 13, when Old Centralians will be the first visitors, the first of many new opposition teams that the club look forward to entertaining at The Nest this year.