Eastbourne Rugby Club chairman Fraser Brooks is confident this will be the season his first team grab promotion into the London Three South East league.
Brooks has set the club’s goal for the up coming season, with their first pre-season match taking place this Saturday, and failure to gain promotion from Sussex Spitfire One is not an option.
Eastbourne host Hastings this weekend in their first of three warm up matches, before the season kicks off against Hove second team on the September 6.
The Blue and Golds came close to promotion last season, missing out on a play-off place by 17 points.
Brooks said, “There is no hiding the fact that this is the season we have to be gaining promotion, this is the one. We have had a bit of consolidation in the last couple of seasons but the club has re-grouped itself and there are no excuses now.
“We’ve been close in previous seasons but I’m now tired of being the bridesmaid, we want to be the bride.”
The club have recruited new and old players with Brooks and his new-look coaching staff looking for the right blend of youth and experience.
The Eastbourne chairman said, “We’ve got new players, who are new to the game and can develop in the lower senior sides, but we’ve also got players that were part of the Eastbourne experience, who were winning everything six or seven years ago.
“These players will bring seniority to the squad. it’s a nice mix.The competition for places in the first 15 is the best I’ve seen it in five years.”
Competition for the automatic promotion place will be fierce with teams such as Crawley, Hove and recently relegated Burgess Hill all looking to move up to London Three South East.
Brooks believes Eastbourne’s competitive squad is mainly down to the club’s new coaching setup.
Brooks said, “ A lot of it is down to our new coaching structure, we now have a team of coaches rather than an individual coach. We’ve now got five coaches out there recruiting and bringing back old players, everything is now multiplied.”
Eastbourne’s first team coaches are led by Russ Aikenhead and the ex-Eastbourne player is helped by Steve Clarke, Matt Pysden, Rob Light and Gee Hunt.
Eastbourne’s promotion credentials will be tested against pre-season opposition Hastings on Saturday.
Brooks said, “It will be a real test for us, they gained promotion last season so they’re on a high, it will be a really good marker for us.”
Up coming fixtures:
23rd August vs Hastings XV Senior 2.30pm (pre-season)
30th August vs Senior XV Inter Club 3pm (pre-season)
6th September vs Bromley Senior XV 3pm (pre-season)
13th September vs Hove 2nd XV 3pm (league)
20th September vs Rye 3pm (league)