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Smiths Rugby Club have plenty to celebrate

All Areas > Sport > Rugby Union

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Thursday, 16th December 2021, 09:00

Smiths captain Ben Hawker Smiths captain Ben Hawker

Smiths Rugby Club mark their 70th anniversary in 2022 and there’s surely every chance that it won’t be the only thing they’re celebrating next year.

That’s because the club’s flagship team are blazing a trail in Gloucestershire One North having won all 10 of their opening games.

And chairman Stuart Cole, a one-time 1st XV full-back who still plays for the club’s 2nd XV, couldn’t be more pleased.

“We’ve had a few new players come in and we’ve really gelled as a team,” he said. “We’ve picked up some good players, some of whom have played for the club before, we’re doing really well.”

And while skipper Ben Hawker and his team-mates have been doing the stuff on the pitch, they’ve been helped off it too.

“We’ve got a couple of really good coaches in Rob Nock and Ben Parker,” continued Cole, now 43. “They are both really good with the boys.

“The players’ ball handling skills have got much better, it’s amazing. We’ve got a mobile pack and they’re winning quick ball.

“The forwards are providing a good platform for the backs to run around the park, we’ve got some quick backs.”

The club have certainly come a long way in recent times – both on and off the pitch.

For a long time they were at, or near the bottom, of the pyramid structure but the change in their fortunes has coincided with a change of home.

These days they play their home games at the Prince of Wales Stadium – Cheltenham’s one-time ground – and Cole added: “It is starting to feel like home. I think it does help us attract new players, the players like coming out of the tunnel onto the pitch.

“It’s one of the best pitches in Cheltenham and we’ve also got the lights of course. When we were at Newlands you could get caught by the wind and the rain but now we’ve got a bit of cover in the bad weather.”

And while Cole and quite a few of Smiths’ supporters are happy about that, they are equally happy about what the future holds.

“We want to win the title this season,” said Cole. “This is the best we’ve ever done in the league and it would be great to get into Gloucester Premier. It would be good for the club and we’d enjoy the competition.

“If we do get there I think we’d be okay.”

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