Fylde are a team who impressed last season. Finishing a strong 6th place last season in National League One winning 17 games and losing 13. They are a team who bring an expansive game of rugby to the division and it made for great viewing throughout last year. They are beginning to assert themselves as one of the hardest teams to beat and contenders for promotion to the Championship next season. Fylde proved with their open and expansive game of rugby last season that they are more than able to compete in the second tier of English rugby. Who knows? They could well follow in the footsteps of Ealing Trailfinders.
Fylde put in some magnificent performances last season and showed how dangerous an attacking team they can be. They blew away Esher on the opening day of last season winning by 39-22. However they suffered three defeats in a row to Wharfedale, Old Albanians before a heavy defeat away to Blaydon but managed to recover with a narrow victory over Sedgley Park. Up until the Christmas break they put in strong performances and came out with great wins against the likes of Cambridge, Macclesfield and Cinderford. However they suffered setbacks with a heavy loss to Rosslyn Park, a narrow loss to eventual champions Ealing and a heavy defeat away to Tynedale. After they came back from the Christmas break they managed to defeat promotion rivals Blaydon but suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of Cinderford before gaining revenge with a close victory over Wharfedale. But they suffered a set back the following week losing narrowly to bottom of the table Cambridge before they managed to turn their fortunes around with a very confident and clinical performance in the Lancashire derby against Sedgley Park. They then comfortably beat Rosslyn Park 35-10 before the highlight of their season came the following weekend. Champions Ealing were next to visit Fylde and the home side came out worthy winners at 22-18. Fylde finished the season strongly with great wins against the likes of Loughborough Students and Blackheath before losing to Esher on the final day.
The whole team was outstanding throughout last season. The forwards regularly gave opposition packs headaches at scrum time and also made themselves at nuisance at lineout time. The likes of Peter Altham, Thomas Lavelle, Paul Arnold and Ben Vernon were outstanding in the pack all led by inspirational flanker and captain Evan Stewart. Paul Arnold regularly disrupted opposition line outs and Peter Altham and Thomas Lavelle showed their power in the scrums and in the loose. Ben Vernon never failed to ruin opposition back lines with his powerful runs. Captain Evan Stewart led from the front and this was evident in all the clinical performances the pack put in throughout last season. The backs were also outstanding. A very potent backline that focused on playing open and attacking rugby was controlled by one of the best fly halves in National One Chris Johnson. His superb place kicking from hand and the distribution of his passing led to the backline scoring some sensational tries. His goal kicking was pure class as well. The likes of Chris and Stephen Briers, Warren Spragg, Oli Brennand and Ryan De La Harpe making up a very clinical backline. Oli Brennand was superb throughout last season scoring some cracking tries and carving up opposition backlines with his quick feet and incredible speed. The whole backline put in some incredible performances last season.
With National League One becoming a more competitive division season by season anyone could gain promotion from the 3rd tier of English rugby next season. But Fylde definitely have the squad that are capable of competing in the Championship. If they can keep the vast majority of their squad from last season and perhaps add a few extra players then they definitely have a shot at winning the title.