WINDSOR Chairman of Rugby Mike Crawshaw believes there is a positive vibe around Home Park as the club stepped up its pre-season preparations on Saturday, writes Rob Stevens.

Windsor

hosted a double-header of friendly matches as The Dames took on Newbury ladies before the men played their visitors from West Berkshire.

The club is preparing for its return back into South West One East this season and, having already strengthened the first team squad, a coaching structure has been developed to support new first team head coach Jack Pattinson as well as the coaching across the ladies and youth sections.

The trio of Neil Kennedy, Ray Cox and Danny Jacobs will act as assistants to Pattinson with Simon Turley senior squad manager and Owen Flisher second team player coach. Johnny Hilton will be head coach of the Dames with assistance from Cox.

Windsor has also welcomed back ex-head coach Paul Britton, who will be a mentor to Pattinson, and former player Rhys Davies as Club Development Officer and assistant coach to both the men and women.

Crawshaw

told the Observer: “If you look at the squad from last season around 60-70 per-cent of the players came through the youth section, so it’s important to have the right structure and create a pathway for people to move through the age groups. If you can do that then you’ll have a stable club going forwards.

“It’s about the whole club and that’s why we think the structure we’ve got in place now will help, not just drive the senior men’s side, but the ladies and youth section to ultimately bring the club closer together.

“We’re delighted about what’s going on and positive with the size of squad that we’ve got. We would always want more but we’re in a good place to start the campaign in September, which will be tough no doubt about it. It’s going to be a very hard campaign and you need a big squad to be able to cope with the challenges.

“You’ve got to aim for the top six and we will aim to get there. We will know if that’s achievable once we start to play games but that’s the goal and I’d like to think the positive vibe in training, where people are enjoying it and coming back, that would attract new players as well.

“It’s going to take time but we’re all happy where we are and there’s such a positive vibe down at the club at the moment.

“We’re hosting a double-header this Saturday which is probably the first time we’ve ever done it. The Dames are playing Newbury Ladies before the first and second team game, which will be very much a pre-season game to see where we are as we build for the coming season.

“The bottom line is coaches want to look at what players they’ve got and what phases of play they can create during pre-season, so it’s all about starting to develop a structure that we can then take further forward into the league season.”

Crawshaw continued: “Pre-season has gone very well at the moment across all sectors.

“The senior squad has been training two or three times a week most weeks and we’re probably getting more than 40 people training on a Tuesday and Thursday, which is very good numbers when you’re looking to have a strong first team squad.

“The end goal is to get four teams out and more people training, so it’s great. It’s a positive that existing players have come back and we’ve had two Stuart Everton and Greg Drew return from Rams which is great news and will bolster the strength of the squad.

“A couple of other players that haven’t played for a number of years have come back as well, so all-in-all we can say that pre-season is going very well.

“The sessions have been very hard but that tends to be good and the nice thing about it is people are training hard with a smile on their faces, which means there’s a good vibe as we approach pre-season.

“We’re still keen to welcome new players of all abilities. We would like to get some stronger players for the first team squad because when you’ve got so many league games you’re going to need a big squad.

“Likewise we want players of all abilities so we can actually achieve our goal of getting four full sides out and making the rugby club the centre of the community.

“On the ladies side, their pre-season is starting as well. They’ve done a lot in terms of a boot camp to attract players on a Wednesday night.”