Eastbourne Rugby Club enter the last knockings of the Sussex League season with one eye on the end-of-season play-offs and another on developing young talent for the future.
The Sussex League Division One side travel to Rye tomorrow in a second versus third match-up.
With leaders Burgess Hill guaranteed the Division One crown, Eastbourne coach Mal Chumbley knows his team are safe in second with three games left and a play-off match-up against the runners-up in Kent League Division One - either second-placed Beccehamian or Hastings & Bexhill.
The prize for the winners is promotion to London Division South East 3 - which Eastbourne were relegated from 12 months ago.
“There will be no change to our approach for the Rye game,” said Mal. “Our biggest challenge is to widen our player base capable of playing at the highest level.
“Over the last couple of matches we have tried to integrate players from the 2nd XV to move up into the first, with some of the first team stepping down to work with the youngser players. It has needed a balanced and careful approach, but it has been working.”
The Eastbourne coach said that when he took over at Park Avenue last summer, he and the club committee set themselves a three-year plan.
Promotion in their first season of Sussex League rugby was always the main hope for the club, ultimately the aim within three years is to establish Eastbourne Rugby Club as an integral part of divisional rugby.
Chumbley explained that for his team to be competitive in London Division 3 South-East, he needs a squad of 40 players to choose from.
“The only way to achieve that was by integrating players from the second and even third teams.
“We will not waver from this principle,”added Chumbley.
“I knew when I came here last summer that we had to strengthen in a number of areas, particularly organisation and structure.
“We have had 25 players in contention for the first team, we need 40.
“The demands on players from a club of our size are huge when they have got to work around work and family life with their rugby.
“So when you get injuries or players taken away by other commitments you have to have cover.
“At divisional level there is a clear distinction between community-based clubs and those which are run more from a business perspective.
“We know that our potential is to be a stalwart of London Division 3 at least, but to do that we need to strengthen our playing squad.”
Eastbourne have already beaten Rye 49-0 this season in a match which was marred by a serious injury to club captain Joe Tobin.
Eastbourne take on Lewes II on April 13, and then finish off against Brighton II on April 20.
Fellow Sussex League 1 side Seaford travel to Lewes tomorrow.