Oaklands Insider: Blues can look forward to exciting times

Ben Polhill on the attack against Dover - during the Chichester first XV's good start  Picture by Kate Shemilt C131386-5
Ben Polhill on the attack against Dover - during the Chichester first XV's good start Picture by Kate Shemilt C131386-5

Welcome to first Oaklands Insider, a monthly column designed to give an insight into events surrounding Chichester RFC on and off the pitch and thoughts opinion on events going on at a national level.

As with many sports clubs, the new season is greeted with optimism about the forthcoming eight months, with the hopes of a continued push for promotion for our teams.

The first team have been agonisingly close to league honours in the past few seasons and there is genuine belief in the club they can continue to be a force in London one south.

They have made a promising start to the new campaign. However, this season promises to be as tough as ever, with newcomers to the league, who have clear aspirations to succeed at all costs. I remember the club president addressing a small gathering at a pre-match lunch a few years ago and he stated London one south is rugby’s ‘amateur Premiership’.

Maybe he should now be considering the league below with several clubs able and willing to pursue league glory at all costs. I just hope the values of the sport are retained when doing so.

Not everyone at a rugby club has the opportunity to succeed in the premier team of the club. Most players at Chichester are lucky in that second and third-team rugby is a thriving environment with tough fixture lists.

Sport at amateur level relies on generous sponsorship and bar revenue to survive. However, of equal importance is the willing group of unpaid volunteers who turn up every week and help prepare the venue and do other work behind the scenes. They are the true unsung heroes and many would be unaware of what they contribute. We salute you!

The mini and junior sections of the club are now in full swing. Oaklands Park is an amazing place to be on Sunday mornings with hordes of boys and girls enjoying themselves.

Some parents show concern at the start of the season over the firmness of the pitches. These fears tend to subside quickly when the rain arrives and before they know it, the grass is lush again. The main pitches are nurtured with a re-seeding exercise co-ordinated by the council each summer.

This time of year sees the start of the European Cup, which looks like it may be entering its final season in its current format. There has been much speculation about the fairness of the existing set-up, with particular reference to qualification and revenue allocation. Indeed, much of the criticism is well founded.

However, one thing for sure - all the clubs involved need each other for this wonderful competition to continue to thrive.

The failure of the Pro12 clubs to enter the proposed new format would signal a certain death sentence in the current set-up of professional rugby in each of the countries involved. Let’s hope sanity prevails and an amicable solution can be agreed, with the spectator being the winner.

Enjoy your rugby!


Want your local sport or sports club covered in a monthly column in the Observer? Email steve.bone@chiobserver.co.uk