Thu, 05 Jul 2018
New Blues head coach Paul Archer
NEWBURY Blues are fired up to reclaim their place in the South West Premier division.
New head coach Paul Archer, who replaced Lee Goodall at the end of last season, has been impressed with the squad’s enthusiasm over the first week of pre-season training.
He said: “The guys are hugely fired up for promotion – that is the aspiration for the club,
“The energy the players have shown has been outstanding and they are all committed to making it happen.”
Blues were desperately unlucky to be relegated at the end of last season after winning four of their final five games.
They finished the campaign on 64 points, just five points behind fifth-placed Bracknell and with 13 wins from 26 games.
Now Blues will have to start all over again in South West 1 East, but Archer can’t wait for the action to start.
He said: “We are all keen to get started and in some respects the hardest thing will be to keep the enthusiasm going.”
Archer, who was assistant coach to Goodall for three-and-a-half years, is looking to put his stamp on the team.
He said: “We won’t be looking to reinvent the wheel, but we will try to reinforce where we were at the end of last season.
“We have some very exciting attacking players who use the ball well and we have trust in them.
“We were disappointed to have lost Adam Neal to Henley because he was a big part of the squad – he will be a loss.
“But now other guys can take the opportunity and make their mark, particularly in the second row.
“We have options and we will play free-flowing rugby with no fear.
“We have recruited a few players over the close season and we will be looking at them over the next few training sessions.
“It has been a slow burn – we have not been aggressively seeking new players, but we have players who want to come here and play for us.”
Blues still have nearly two months before they kick off their South West 1 East camapign with a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon on September 1.
It’s an earlier start than usual and it gives all teams a bit of breathing space during the season.
Archer said: “It is a physical game and there are no easy games in this league.
“As rugby gets ever more professional, that filters down the leagues and we have to be very sensible about player welfare.”
Blues, though, will still be turning up the heat in training as the season approaches.
The players will be let off the leash in a friendly at Tottonians on August 11, and will then play in a tournament at Tring a week later, before entertaining Havant under lights on August 25.
After that, the real action begins and Blues will be determined to bounce back at the first attempt and reclaim their place in the South West Premier.