Welwyn aiming high as competitive rugby returns in their 90th anniversary season
- Credit: KARYN HADDON
Competitive rugby returns to Welwyn for the first time in more than 18 months and while head coach Gareth Hughes can't wait for the feel of match day again, he has his thoughts firmly focused on success at the end of the year.
The new season will see the Hobbs Way-based club in London North West Three after they were relegated at the end of the 2019-2020, lining up against familiar faces with the season starting and finishing against St Albans.
They are the visitors on Saturday and when the whole circus comes to a close at Boggymead on April 2, Hughes wants his team in the top two.
He said: "I’ve made my aims clear to the players. It is our 90th anniversary season and we have a very capable squad.
"We’re not shying away from the fact that we want promotion.
"It is better to start the year with a clear and concise goal and I totally believe there is no reason at all why it cannot come true.
"Yes it will be difficult and we’ll probably have some bumpy roads along the way but with our players we can make this season a memorable one."
- 1 Murder-suicide investigation in Welwyn Garden City
- 2 Councillor disappointed as BioPark appeal confirmed
- 3 14 of the best places for a curry in Hertfordshire according to readers
- 4 Five hospitalised after Hatfield dog attack
- 5 Grant Shapps suddenly cancels constituency event amid fuel chaos
- 6 Ed Sheeran announces 2022 stadium tour: How to get tickets
- 7 Two more acts added to Hatfield music festival's 'line-up of headliners' for 2022
- 8 University of Hertfordshire paedophile caught with more than 500 child abuse images
- 9 'So much for grassroots tennis' - Price hike at Gosling Sports Park sparks ire
- 10 New Local Plan timetable aims for summer deadline
And despite the forced absence for the field and clubhouse, Welwyn have had been able to retain the vast majority of the squad and attract one or two others.
"It’s been amazing," said Hughes. "Almost 90 per cent of all our senior male players retained their monthly subscriptions over this period.
"That’s phenomenal and shows how much the club means to them.
"We’ve lost James Tan, he’s gone to Hertford and we wish him all the beat in pursuing his dream of a first-team place, but apart from that we haven’t lost anyone."
"Josh Milton is our new captain. He's not much of a talker but he will lead from the front. His leadership qualities comes from his performances on the pitch.
"The players look up to him and will follow him into battle.
"We’re really pleased with that appointment."
Off the pitch though there will also be plenty of excitement, and Hughes says that is just as important to the players and supporters as the playing part.
He said: "We’ve been on and off for around 18 months in between the lockdowns but having a clear date for when we’re going to start the league is something that we’ve all been looking forward to.
"Some of the boys are really itching to get back. It’s a release from the pressures of life.
"And it is a lot more than just playing. It is the ability after the game to have a bit natter and feel that buzz in the club with the doors open, children running in and out, dogs running in and out, the old players reminiscing.
"I’ve really missed that and I’m looking forward to our first home game."