WITH a new head coach on the horizon, Worthing Raiders Rugby Club are building for the future with their sights set on the top of the National League – but they want to do it the right way.
The club are very much looking to push on in the next few years, but they want to make sure they do it the right way and not run before they can walk.
The fear is making the jump into a higher league without being ready. But a steady improvement over the past few years is gradually bringing them closer and they are closing the gap on the top sides in National 2 South.
Some may see the departure of head coach Will Green as a possible step back, but team manager David Hinchliffe has insisted that the club is aiming higher, and they have made that clear to the players as well.
He said: “We have told the players we are looking to replace Will with someone just as good or better, and someone who has the ambition we have.
“All the people we are speaking to are in that bracket, and the players have been told we are not looking to take a step back.”
Worthing currently have a shortlist of three men in the frame to replace Green, one of whom they have labelled as their number one target.
On stepping up the leagues, Hinchliffe continued: “You have to make sure you are ready for when you get up there.
“Ealing and Jersey have spent a small fortune this year and are not light years ahead of us. We are doing it better as it’s for less money.
“It’s the place we want to be, but we don’t want to go up, get larruped and come straight back down in pieces.
“We want to go up when we know we could survive. We have the facilities to survive, that’s for sure.”
The financial issue is also one that must be stable. In the higher leagues, overnight stays will be paramount and the club must have the sponsors in place to do so.
This season’s runners-up Jersey have travelled overnight before each game using hotels, and it has clearly benefited their results.
Raiders, meanwhile, had a 6am departure, flight and coach journey before kick-off, on their away day at Jersey this year, which they lost 21-10.
Hinchliffe added: “It is something we need to look at before we think of going up, the financial constraints, especially in the current climate.
“I think we could be in the position in two to three years. If someone came in with a hatful of money we’d be fine, but that isn’t how we want to do it. We have a large number of smaller sponsors, as if you just have one and lose them, you could be in all sorts of trouble.”
The club held their annual players’ awards evening last Friday.
Awards went to Finlay Coxon-Smith as the club’s under-21 player of the year. For the Raiders, Matt McLean was awarded the supporters’ player of the season, while Greg Sullivan took the players’ player award.
Harry Chatfield was the second XV’s player of the season, while Andy Hyatt won the gong in the 3rd XV. The 4th’s player of the year was Ivan Luke, and the 5th’s went to Martin Swan, while the ladies’ award went to Rachael Abbott.
Will Green, who has now left as head coach, was presented with a framed shirt and photographs, as well as a cut glass bowl and a card signed by the players and supporters.