Steve Jones writes a preview of the season ahead for Oxford Rugby League – based at Iffley Road it would be hard to find a nicer venue to watch summer rugby.
Oxford Rugby League Supporters 2015 Season Preview – Steve Jones
Well… A “New Era” for Rugby League and a “New Era” for Oxford RLFC !
As we approach the 2015 season Oxford Rugby League Club is virtually unrecognisable from last season !
2014, league position wise, was disappointing and our lack of securing bonus points proved costly. The squad also lost some key players but the rest of the lads stuck in there never taking a backward step and they deserve our utmost respect for that Thumbs up sign.
We enter 2015 with 10 players re-signed form last season (although this could still change ) which includes JJ Baird who has had knee reconstruction surgery following an injury sustained in our “home” game against York City Knights (played at Henley).JJ will miss much of the season as a player but has taken on the role of assistant coach following the retirement of Martin Roddy MBE and is relishing the opportunity!
JJ will be assisting our new Head Coach Tim Rumford who has been appointed following the departure of Tony Benson during the closed season. Tim brings a wealth of experience including his position as Head of Castleford Tigers Academy,successfully coaching young players through to the first team. Notably (as I am a Warringtonian ) Daryl Clark.
Feedback from the club is buzzing with positives and we hear that the lads have gelled well as a team and are working tirelessly on their individual fitness as well as their combined strength on the field.
In addition to JJ we welcome back:
Although we are sad to lose the lads who have moved on we wish them the best of luck in their new ventures but the clubs’ aim of developing local talent has resulted in a unique relationship with the Cavaliers plus proof that progression is a reality with Sean Morris joining the Broncos.
A few names have been on the club’s radar for some time and added to this a very successful trials day the recruitment drive is reaching its conclusion.Tim, JJ and team manager Ryan Cousins have been assessing the squad, planning their approach and working on the players strengths and weaknesses.
Our new signings include some lads who have seen the light and come to us from Union inspired perhaps by the success of Mr Morris ?
The RAF & Army also figure highly in our new recruits including Jordan Andrade and Josh Scott who have both won international honours for England and GB forces.
Goals & conversions can win or lose a game so we are lucky to have healthy competition for this role.Danny Allen, Nathan kitson & Louis Richards all have good pedigrees in this skill ….. A choice that many teams will envy !
In our first warm up match on 17th January up at Hunslet Warriors the player’s mettle was well and truly tested in Arctic conditions. Sheets of ice were lifted off the pitch and icy cold water scooped up before the game could commence and despite the conditions both sides gave a spirited, gritty performance and both new coaches were able was well and truly tested in Arctic conditions. Sheets of ice were lifted off the pitch and icy cold water scooped up before the game could commence and despite the conditions both sides gave a spirited, gritty performance and both new coaches were able to learn a lot about their players.
Thankfully , compared to Hunslet, conditions were positively “tropical” at The Teltley’s Stadium on the 7th Feb where we were welcomed by Dewsbury Rams for another pre season outing. Tim Rumford and his crew rotated many players throughout the match and were again given a lot of positives to think about in the coming weeks.
Also during the closed season, “Oxford Rugby League supporters Club” was born !
We have a hardcore few who love the game and are passionate about Oxford RL but trying to convert more people is akin to pushing water uphill with a rake so if any southern teams have a winning formula for attracting fans we would love to hear from you.We are looking forward to seeing our opposition teams and their fans both home and away.
All in all this promises to be a great season for Oxford RL. Tim, his coaching team and the players are ready for the challenge and we look forward to more “Iffley Road Thrillers” plus creating some shocks along the way !