Promotion goal for rugby club

H&B captain Paul Sandeman
H&B captain Paul Sandeman

Promotion is the goal as Hastings & Bexhill prepare to kick-off the new rugby season.

H&B finished a creditable fifth in their debut Kent One season last term, but with the 2011/12 champions and runners-up being promoted, and no clubs coming down from above, the division looks wide open in 2012/13.

Head coach Kevin Smith said: “Promotion is what we’re looking for. Our scrummage is 20 per cent better than it was this time last year, I think we’ve got a bigger squad and a lot of young players coming through which is the most pleasing thing for me.

“There are new faces pushing the older guys a little bit. Instead of a squad of 21/22 that we possibly scraped last year, it’s going to be about 24/25 players that could fit in seamlessly. There’s going to be some disappointed people there, but the squad’s looking strong.”

Buoyed by two pre-season warm-up victories out of two, H&B begin with a home game against Old Gravesendians - a team they beat twice and finished two places above last season - tomorrow (Saturday), kick-off 3pm.

“I’m not looking to lose at home at all - it’s as simple as that really,” Smith continued. “It’s a statement of intent and the players know we have to make Hastings a fortress.

“We give every team a certain amount of respect, but we want to nail those home games. You don’t win the league by just winning home games; you win the league by being consistent.”

Paul Sandeman continues as captain, and Chris Brooks has come in as forwards coach to work alongside Smith and existing backs coach Kit Claughton. Smith added that the club will also be videoing games.

See today’s Hastings Observer for the full article.