Chichester RFC are a sleeping giant - and they’re waking up

Action from Chi's last home game, which brought a 36-10 win over Eton Manor / Picture by Kate Shemilt
Action from Chi's last home game, which brought a 36-10 win over Eton Manor / Picture by Kate Shemilt
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HEAD coach Rob Lawrence reflected on Chichester RFC’s mixed start to their second National League season –and said: “There are so many positives.”

The Blues have won three and lost four of their opening seven games but Lawrence said there were plenty of reasons to be positive about the club’s future.

He insisted the record could easily read five wins and only two defeats –but stressed that what they were trying to build at Oaklands Park was about more than bare results.

Chichester finished in mid-table last season, their first year in National three London south-east, and with just over a quarter of this campaign behind them, sit ninth in the 14-team league this term.

They have beaten Colchester, Gravesend and Eton Manor and lost to Tonbridge Juddians, Guernsey, London Irish Wildgeese and Wimbledon.

They host 12th-placed Bracknell this Saturday (2.30pm kick-off) and if they can win, Lawrence will be content with a record of four wins and four defeats. But the longer-term picture is more important, he says.

I believe the club is a sleeping giant and is waking up. To keep growing and developing, and waking up if you like, we need everyone to keep doing things the right way.

“The season’s gone largely as we expected so far,” he said.

“We are in a transtitional period at the club and have brought in new faces and new systems, and you won’t make everything work at once.

“We’ve played some fantastic attacking rugby – better than I have ever seen from us, at times.

“The wins have all come from difficult fixtures and even in losing to the top two, London Irish and Tonbridge, we scored nine tries. So we have shown that we can perform against anyone.

“There are areas for improvement – of course there are. But there’s only been one game so far –away to Guernsey – in which we have not been competitive.

“The senior squad are developing well and are buying into the philosophy we are trying to build.

“It’s not just about results, and not just about the first XV. It’s about brotherhood and kinship, family and community – building values that will serve the club well now and in the future.

“Results still matter but we must make sure everything surrounding us is as we want it to be.

“I believe the club is a sleeping giant and is waking up. To keep growing and developing, and waking up if you like, we need everyone to keep doing things the right way.”

Lawrence believes the division is very open this year, with only a fine line between clubs who will finish in the top half and the bottom half.

He thinks it quite possible a team will win the title after losing four or five games, but does not see Chichester as relegation candidates.

“We are in a dogfight every week really,” he said.

“Every game is a battle. It’s not like London one south, where sometimes we would roll over teams and score ten tries.

“It’s a higher level and more competitive as a result.”

Last season Chichester were second at the turn of the year but fell away in the second part of the campaign.

This year the hope is they peak at the right time and perhaps challenge for promotion come the spring.

One aim is to be the top club in Sussex – a title curently held by Worthing, who play one league above the Blues.

Lawrence said: “We are only a dozen or so places below Worthing in the league structure so that is not an impossible dream by any means.

Chi have suffered injury problems this season – and have been without a couple of their ‘farmers’ who have been busy trying to harvest.

But Lawrence said some key players were due back in the squad soon to strengthen the ranks at a key time.

And he urged local fans who had not already done so to get down to a game at Oaklands Park and see what the club was trying to build.

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