New look after promotion as OA Saints ready to hit the ground running in new year

A new-look Old Albanian Saints began their pre-season campaign with a big win over Reading Abbey.

A new-look Old Albanian Saints began their pre-season campaign with a big win over Reading Abbey. - Credit: Archant

A new position for Sarah McKenna and a new and higher division for Old Albanian Saints is just part of the changing of the guard for the progressive club.

New OA Saints head coach Sarah McKenna in action for Saracens. Picture: DANNY LOO

New OA Saints head coach Sarah McKenna in action for Saracens. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

The Saracens and England star has taken over the as head coach of the Woollams-based ladies side, a role she says is "daunting" but one she has fully immersed herself in.

The team meanwhile have the challenge of Championship South, the second tier of women's rugby in this country, to look forward to.

McKenna though believes all these changes are good things.

She said: "We're looking at having a really positive season on and off the pitch. We're looking at continuing the culture we've got. We want everyone to enjoy themselves and that they continue to learn and get out of rugby what they want.


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"We want people to turn up and leave with smiles on their faces.

"We still want to be competitive and challenge the girls but so that they get a real sense of worth and enjoyment.

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"We want a top four finish or at least top half which I think we're very capable of doing, I don't think that's overly-ambitious.

"We've come into the league in a really strong position."

The club have pressed on since their promotion and national cup success last time out with a number of new faces coming into the side, some of who helped them to a thumping victory over Reading Abbey in the first of their pre-season outings.

McKenna said: "We've got a really good atmosphere in the squad. It's been a long pre-season and we just need games now.

"I probably called us in too early as I was trying to settle my nerves and it probably wasn't necessary.

"But the way we came together in that game, it was like we'd only missed a week from our final. Even with the new faces it was seamless."

She is slowly overcoming those nerves about her own position too but as with every stride of her coahing career so far, she says it is only of benefit.

"For the first time ever I have to lead stuff," she said. "I'm usually just adding to someone else's sessions.

"It's daunting and it makes me question my knowledge but it's reinforcing what I do on the pitch.

"It's good for me. It challenges me and makes you think about things you wouldn't normally."

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