Maidenhead RFC’s new head coach David Mobbs-Smith says there are too many ‘uncontrollables’ to accurately predict how the side will get on in their first season post Russell Bolton.
Maids, who have already returned for a couple of pre-season training sessions with their new strength and condition coach Murray Barratt, finished third in South West Premier Division last season.
And those in and around the club will be hoping to see further progress under Mobbs-Smith and his coaching team this season.
Speaking this week he said the club were in the process of recruiting some new players – with announcements set to be made in due course – but believes it’s folly to suggest Maids will be one of the title contenders in 2019/20.
“There are too many uncontrollables to accurately predict anything,” he said. “You don’t know how well teams have recruited in the off-season, which players might have returned from university. There are strong sides that come down into the league and ambitious clubs that come up and believe they can play straight through. There are too many uncontrollables and unknowns to make a prediction and say we’ll finish in X position. Some town teams might have eight players coming back into their ranks, they can have a big intake and be really strong again.
“Every club will have dreams and ambitions at this stage. The reality sets in from September or October. Everyone will be talking about their side finishing in the top half – and that’s where we’ll want to be. We want to aim for the top half and to be competitive. It’s a highly competitive, combative league so it’s difficult to predict anything with any real certainty.”
Maids players will train three times a week before their first pre-season clash, likely to be against Beacons-field in early August. Then they’ll travel to National League 2 side Barnes on August 17, followed by their final friendly against Civil Service Rugby on August 31.
The first South West Premier fixture will see Maids travel to Drybrook on Saturday, September 7.
“Our first league fixture is not an easy one,” said Mobbs-Smith. “We’ll have to prepare for that. Prior to that we’ll play CS Rugby who play at the same level as us in the London leagues. That will be a really good benchmark for us to see if we’re ready for the league. They’re a similar side to us and will be pushing for a top five or six finish in their league.
“Barnes are a level above us so that game will test the systems and structures we have put in place because we’ll see less of the ball. It will be hard for us to keep possession and territory.
“We’ll probably take 25 players to a game and there will be a lot of changes because you want to try people in different combinations and systems.”
He added: “So far it’s been really good. There’s been a good attendance at training and we’ve brought in a new SNC (strength and conditioning) coach Murray Barratt. Hopefully he’ll be a great addition for us and we’ll be fitter and stronger, that’s the ambition anyway.
“This group have shown over the past two seasons they’re a successful side, so we’re not going to make wholesale changes but there will be a couple of new additions. They’re signings for a variety of positions across the team because we want competition for places.”