With the pre-season preparations complete, our attentions now turn to the league starting with a tough away fixture against recently relegated Maidstone. Pre-season could not have gone better, helped undeniably by the recent opening of the new Artificial Grass Pitch (AGP) and the magnetic effect this has had on players. The result has been consistently high numbers at training and the development of a depth to the squad that is unprecedented. This in turn has helped the preparations with fitness levels soaring and the ability to work on the playing structures maximised. With strong wins in the preseason fixtures, the players are all set to push the playing side of the club to levels that reflect the excellent facilities the club now enjoys.
The season ahead will be a tough one, with 3 teams relegated from London 1 all contributing to an ultra-competitive league. These teams will no doubt seek an immediate return to London 1 South as will the likes of Charlton Park, Haywards Heath, Beckenham and Dover who all have recent London 1 experience. There are at least 8 teams who fancy their chances at promotion and Horsham are no different with our own aspirations to progress as a club. It is without doubt the most competitive the league has been since 2015 and the squad depth will undoubtedly be tested.
Fortunately, recruitment has gone extremely well. With several players returning from university, players stepping up from the incredibly successful Colts team of 2018 and players joining from other regional clubs, we now have true competition for places. Notable joiners include the experienced Jamie Redmayne re-joining his childhood club after over 200 1st team appearances with Worthing Raiders alongside his ex-Worthing teammates Christian Squire, Chris Double and Jake Fisher. Additionally, Joe Reid has joined from Colchester and along with former colt Josh Earle and Surrey U20 prop Ted Powell, the front row options have deepened considerably. With Former London Irish, Worthing and East Grinstead prop Adam Halsey retained as forwards coach, he has been busy drilling the new joiners into a fearsome unit. In the backs, the traditional Horsham pace is retained and with Declan Nwachukwu now back from university, we expect that his already awesome try scoring record will be built upon. Stepping up from last year’s Colts are impressive half backs Aaron Lindfield and Joe Blake along with Marcus Condon to complement the already formidable contributions of flankers Simon Powell and Vince Everitt. When combined with the ball carrying ability of both Tredgett brothers and Jack Osgood, Johnny Whiting and Jordan Smith, the options become a true selection headache for the coaching team on a weekly basis.
The coaching team has been retained from last season with Adam Halsey leading the forwards and Richard Bell as attack coach complemented by defence coach Johnny Porter all headed up by Nick Stocker. To assist in the management of the senior squads, former Club Captain Barry Wright has assumed the role of 1st Team Manager and stepping in to the crucial role of Lions Manager is former Colts Coach Tony Jones who with his team is responsible for ensuring the playing experience for the Lions reflects their playing ambition given the competition for places. The Lions will be Captained by club stalwart and regular 1st team player Andy Carvell who has already demonstrated his ability to galvanise a squad into what promises to be a very successful team with a target to win their respective league. The responsibility for Captaining the 1st team and setting the tone for what promises to be a very exciting season for the club has been accepted by Richard Tredgett who will undoubtedly bring his own brand of intensity to play.
Beyond the top two teams, we have also welcomed the Colts into the senior section to build ever stronger links between junior rugby and senior rugby in what is a challenging transition age for younger players. With the aim of keeping as many players involved beyond age grade rugby, John McFarlane and Ian Minto have begun to shape their team well and are likewise excited about the season ahead. This will see some junior players make the transition and play senior rugby with the Baa Baas (3rd team) who will be looking to retain their Sussex Cup and compete in the league. Lastly, and by no mean least, the club will be holding a few veterans’ fixtures on a Friday night under lights throughout the season. The chance to witness the effects of long term exposure to the “drug” that is rugby will be on show as older players get to relive their youth in what will be great opportunities to renew old acquaintances across the county.
With the sense of optimism around the club palpable, there is no better time to get involved. The club’s philosophy is to develop all players of all standards in a quality coaching environment backed up by excellence in facilities. The aim is to help players to reach their potential whatever level that may be and as such we welcome all players, young and old of all abilities.
Updated 15:05 - 7 Sep 2018 by Richard Ordidge