Oaks Head Coach Adam Bowman is looking forward to the start of the season. Photo Credit: David Purda y

Oaks Head Coach Adam Bowman is looking forward to the start of the season. Photo Credit: David Purday

With just a few days to go until the start of the season, Sevenoaks RFC Senior Squad are in a ‘good place’ according to their Head Coach, Adam Bowman.  Oaks have completed their pre-season match programme, with good tests against Beckenham RFC, Bracknell RFC and Gillingham Anchorians RFC giving all players the chance to stake their claim for a starting shirt across the Squads.  Oaks also held an inter-squad game, which Bowman described as an ‘excellent exercise’ ahead of the new season.

‘Each game offered a different challenge’ said the Head Coach.  ‘Pre-season games provide the opportunity for players to get rid of the rust – you can do as much training as you want, but there is nothing like the first five minutes of a pre-season game to get the lungs open!  It also allows us (the coaching group) to look at new players, new combinations and test out some things that we have worked on during training.’

With the majority of the Squad remaining, Bowman believes that the continuity across the group has allowed the coaching staff and players to start a step ahead of where they have been in previous seasons.  ‘We’ve worked really hard over the past few seasons to put a playing structure and systems in place that is used across the whole squad.  That takes time, but we are now ‘refreshing’ rather than starting from scratch.  Because the majority of the squad are familiar with those elements of our game, we can now build on that and add other weapons to our armour in both attack and defence.  We still have a long way to go, but I’m really happy with how the players have applied themselves so far.’

Of course there have been changes in the leadership of the group, with Nigel Gumbleton being appointed as 1st XV captain and Josh Pettet as vice-captain.  Bowman is ‘delighted’ with how the two men have taken to their roles saying ‘Both Nigel and Josh expect the highest standards at training and during games  - they’ve been exemplary so far and have got the upmost respect from the whole squad.  Nigel has worked incredibly hard in the off-season and during pre-season as well to make sure he will be back from his injury as soon as possible and it seems that work has paid off.  He had a good run-out against Bracknell and should be ready and raring to go for the start of the season, which is superb as it was touch and go when he did it.’

Bowman continued ‘Nigel’s recovery is also testament to the hard work and expertise of the medical and performance department.  Our medical provision here at the Club really is first class now – we are extremely lucky to have the expertise of our physio team and also using facilities like the Swim Motion facility, which is where an injured player can run on a treadmill whilst their lower body is underwater, meaning there is minimal impact on key joints.  It’s all part of our ethos and desire to provide the best in class support for players.’

Oaks new 1st XV captain has seemingly won his fitness race in time for the start of the season. Photo credit: David Purday

Oaks new 1st XV captain has seemingly won his fitness race in time for the start of the season. Photo credit: David Purday

So what does the Head Coach see as the challenges ahead of the season ahead?  ‘Physically, week in week out, it’s going to be a big challenge.  I think if you were to look at London 1, each year the physicality turned up each year we were in the league, with the top 5 or 6 sides last season providing a physical test that we probably hadn’t experienced before – that will probably be the base level for Level 5 and will only go up.  Jonny (Short) has been working the boys really hard across pre-season to ensure that we are in the best physical shape possible and the feedback we have got from the boys that have been with us for a time is that it has been the hardest that they have experienced from a fitness point of view.’

As a man known for having his finger on the pulse across rugby and so meticulous in his preparation, who does Bowman see as the runners and riders within London Premier? ‘I’m not going to make any predictions – too many people have been made to look silly doing that!’ joked the Head Coach.  ‘We will do, as we did last season and take every game as it comes.  It’s going to be a different type of pressure to last season, but we need to carry on concentrating on ourselves and not worry about other results or what is happening around us – it’s a case of controlling the controllables.’

Looking ahead to this weekend against Bedford Athletic RFC for the 1st XV and Vigo RFC 1st XV for the 2nd XV, Bowman said ‘Bedford did extremely well last year after a tough start.  I think that shows that it will take time to ‘bed down’ in this league, but you have to trust your systems.  They had some very good results in the second half of the season, finishing sixth, which was a brilliant achievement and no doubt they will want to push on further this year.  With the game being played on a 4g pitch and with the weather currently set to be dry, it looks like it will be a quick track to play on – by the looks of Bedford’s results last season, they look like they want to play a bit so we will have to be on our game defensively.  It’s going to be a real challenge, but we are excited for it’

Senior Fixtures | Saturday 7th September 2019

All KO at 1500hrs

Bedford Athletic RFC 1st XV v. Sevenoaks RFC 1st XV

Vigo RFC 1st XV v. Sevenoaks RFC 2nd XV

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