Chichester Rugby Club must do everything they can to return to the National League at the first time of asking after the relegation.
That’s the view of head coach Rob Lawrence as the club reflects on a mixed season that ended with them narrowly failing to escape from the bottom three of National three London south east in the final few games.
It was a failure to win close games that were within their grasp – and an early-season points deduction for fielding a player they thought was clear to appear for them but wasn’t – that cost them.
After three years at National level, the highest they have ever played at, the Blues will be in London one south east for 2017-18 – but will be determined to bounce straight back.
Lawrence said: “When you leave your fate in the hands of others, you have to accept it may not go your way. That’s the lesson for all of us involved in the season. You have to get results yourselves and not rely on others.
“It was a very mixed season for us. We beat the team who were third in the league in our final game and over the season, we beat three of the top six.
“But in some games, we haven’t shown enough. There were a number of games that could have gone either way and not enough of them went our way.
“We also lost five points near the start of the season for playing a lad who had a registration isssue. We had no way of knowing it at the time but had to face the punishment. Those five points would have kept us up at the end.”
Chichester won nine and lost 17 of their 26 games and Lawrence added: “We should have won more at home and should have won more away. So we didn’t finish on a positive note but the past three years in at national three level have been positive overall.
“There has been more minis and juniors playing at the club, more engagement with the community, more people watching rugby at Oaklands Park – and a lot of that is down to the quality of rugby we have played.
“We have seen more local players and more youngsters coming through to challenge for first XV places.”
Chichester will be among the favourites to do well in London one south east next season. It’s a level where they did well for several seasons before finally gaining promotion via a play-off win against Eton Manor in 2014.
Lawrence said: “The challenge is to get back to national level quickly. I think the first season offers a great chance to get promoted again.
“I’d hope a huge majority of the players would stay on and there is a great derby against Havant to look forward to.”
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