05:14PM, Monday 06 June 2016
(First published in the Maidenhead Advertiser on Thursday, April 28)
From every viewpoint, its seems as if Maidenhead RFC’s season has been a success.
They didn't win any medals or trophies, and endured a five-month spell when they couldn’t win a match away from Braywick.
The town’s rugby club also had to face up to some inconsistent player availability, especially in the early stages, and had to weather criticism of some abject second half performances particularly against Newbury and Swindon.
Alright, so maybe the campaign has not been a success from every possible viewpoint, but from the ones which matter it certainly has.
First and foremost the season saw a new head coach take the reins, something which is not always destined to bring a successful outcome.
But Russell Bolton, fresh from his successes at Reading Abbey and with his background as a RFU community coach, has brought a professionalism to the set-up and some clear thinking.
Probably more so than under previous head coach Allan Greene, the coaching team is ruled by the head not the heart.
Don't get me wrong, there is passion, pride and spirit – the core strengths of any rugby club – but there is also a plan which is there for all to see. And most importantly it’s one that the players have bought into.
The style of rugby and the approach in training has paid dividends and Bolton (pictured) must be delighted with the way his first season has gone.
The powers-that-be at the club, who appointed the young coach, must also be really satisfied and not a little relieved.
After an impressive start to the campaign which saw Maids remain unbeaten in their first seven matches, they went on to lose just once at home all season and play some effective, entertaining rugby.
Look, they had some luck. First-team regulars Tom Finnie and Mathieu Abiven joined the club out of the blue, the early fixtures favoured a decent start for the side and when those matches were close, Maids managed to nick a result.
But they had to build on that fortune and progress their 1st and 2nd teams, which Bolton, backs coach Mark Bates, director of rugby Tony Brookes and new skipper Myke Parrott certainly have.
The final tally reads that Maids finished fifth with 80 points. Last season they were 11th with 44 points.
And what about beyond this season?
Next week I’ll squint into my crystal ball and suggest what should and what might occur.
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