01:39PM, Friday 24 June 2022
Maidenhead's senior squad have returned for pre-season training in the past few weeks.
David Mobbs-Smith has said he's thrilled to be staying on as Maidenhead RFC's head coach for another three years having guided the club to an impressive eighth-place finish in the London & South East Premier Division last season.
The switch to the London & South East league was something of a baptism of fire for Maids, coming off the back of nearly two seasons without competitive rugby, however, they deserve great credit for the way they adapted to those challenges and Mobbs-Smith played a big part in that.
Over the course of the campaign, Maids altered their style of play, improved their strength and conditioning, and became much more tactically astute. In doing so they managed to win eight of their final 14 matches, having started with a record of just two wins in 11.
Having been languishing near the bottom of the table in November, they finished eighth overall and were playing with the form and finesse of a top four side in the final weeks of the season.
Mobbs-Smith will hope the experiences gained over the course of the season, and the strength of the opposition they faced, will stand them in good stead heading into the new season where again they'll face new teams and challenges in a new league.
The club has once again been switched into the newly formed Regional 1 South Central division. They'll kick off their campaign at home to newly promoted London Welsh at Braywick Park on September 3 before visiting old rivals Bracknell the following weekend.
The National League 2 is being split from two divisions into three, while at Maidenhead's level, four leagues are being broken apart to make six slightly smaller divisions.
Reflecting on the challenges ahead, Mobbs-Smith said: “I am thrilled to be involved with Maids for another three years.
“It’s a project that I am enjoying, I love the environment, I love this town I’ve moved to, I love Maidenhead.
“For me, it’s brilliant that I can extend my contract. The club is ambitious, and it’s got a great management team. The fan base is incredible as well.”
Preparations for the new season are already well underway at Braywick Park, with the players having returned to training this month. On Tuesday evening, In 2 Touch TV put on a inter-club touch rugby tournament, described by director of rugby, Myke Parrott, as 'great fun but hard work'.
“I will have to double check, but I have a feeling it’s called Regional 1B,” said Mobbs-Smith.
“It’s a new format that the RFU have come up with. Before, the country’s community rugby was divided into four separate divisions but this coming season, we will play teams from the South East, the South West, and the Midlands.
“Our league will have Banbury in it, Oxford Harlequins, Bracknell and then also sides like Wimbledon and Brighton. So, as you can see, it’s very different. I think it’s going to be a very exciting season because of the shake-up.
“There are a few clubs in the league that I have never even been to before.”
Mobbs-Smith added: “Because it’s a new league and there are so many different teams, there’s no way of predicting where we will finish. We didn’t have relegation at all last season, so it is quite difficult to guess what teams have been doing too.
“You could a club like us, for example, who used last year as a development year for so many of our youngsters. What do our opponents read into that? In that respect, what can we read into other clubs? So, I don’t want to predict what happens next season.
“We started our pre-season and we’re setting about being as well prepared as possible to try and take on what will come at us really.”
Mobbs-Smith took over as the club's head coach from Russell Bolton in June 2019 and concluded his first season in charge by guiding Maids to third place in the South West Premier Division table.
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