Bletchley adapting to life at next level

Bletchley RFC
Bletchley RFC

It has been a tough start to life in South West 1 East for Bletchley, but coach Stuart van Rooyen has high hopes for the new season.

With two defeats to their name from their opening two games, Bletchley find themselves in 12th place with two points to their name and a huge match on Saturday with early pace-setters Chippenham at Manor Fields.

After losing 38-15 to Witney on the opening day of the season, Bletchley were edged out by local rivals Buckingham on Saturday by 29-24.

A disappointing first half left Bletchley with an uphill task to chase the game in the second, but out-scored their rivals to take it close at the end.

Bletchley returned to the division having dominated the Southern Counties North division last season, doing the double with the Bucks Shield too.

But the step up in the standard of rugby is one that has taken the side a little time to get used to.

Head Coach van Rooyen said: “It has really been a tough start to the season for us.

“We’ve had a lot of people out of the side through holidays and family commitments, so it has left us a bit short.

“We were unlucky against Buckingham on Saturday, but a poor first half left us up against it, but we came back and won the second half.

“We’ve got a huge test on Saturday against Chippenham. They’ve just come down to this level, but they can afford to pay their players. There’s a huge gulf.

“But of course we want to play the best rugby we can, so we have to take on the better sides if we want to improve.”

And to make the improvements, van Rooyen says it wouldn’t take a lot for Bletchley to make a step up.

“It would only take four or five top players for this side to really push the top four,” he said. “Once we get our full strength team out on the field, we’ll be a tough team to beat.

“To be honest, I think a top half finish for this side would be an excellent achievement.

“It would probably be better than winning the double last season, because the step up is so big.”

One thing promotion has brought with it though is the sudden abundance of local derbies for Bletchley to enjoy.

This season, Bletchley will face near-by Leighton Buzzard and Towcestrians, as well as Buckingham.

Van Rooyen said: “These are the sorts of games we have no trouble in motivating players for.

“It’s great to have so many local games in a season, and it helps because some of the players have big family commitments and can’t travel the huge distances that we’re expected to in this league.”

Bletchley’s home game against Chippenham on Saturday kicks off at 3pm.