St Albans happy to be moving forward despite final day defeat

St Albans still enjoyed a good season despite a last day defeat to Welwyn.

St Albans still enjoyed a good season despite a last day defeat to Welwyn. - Credit: NEIL METCALFE

The season might have ended disappointingly but nobody at St Albans seemed to mind too much - after another year of progression for the rugby club.

The Blue and Golds went down 50-7 to Welwyn, the visitors missing out on the London Three North West title after a last-minute try for Finchley handed the Londoners the crown.

But head coach Richard Hope was looking at the campaign as a whole and has been happy with what he has seen.

He said: "It’s been a good season and it is a winning season, we have won more games than we lost. 

"The truth of the matter is that after last week’s game over at Cheshunt, where we really just didn’t turn up, this was a dead rubber for us and there was nothing to play for. 

"The boys stuck at it and went as hard as they could and it is what it is.

"In this season we’ve have dropped the average age of our first team from around 33 to 23. We have recruited a huge amount. 

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"After being promoted [in the last full season], to be in with a chance of promotion again is a great place to be. 

"It’s no mean feat to do that two years on the bounce. 

"We are happy with where we are. Did we want to go up? Always. Did we deserve to go up? Probably not at this time, we’re not quite there and probably a couple of players short. 

"But it is a young side where we had a 19-year-old make his debut, he came on at half-time and did really well. 

"We’re in a good place and we’ll keep moving forward." 

A restructure of the grassroots pyramid is still to be finalised but something similar to this year, where six teams were in contention for the title until the penultimate weekend, would please the boss.

Hope said: "We were top of the league twice in the last five weeks and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have been there. 

"Everyone could beat everyone else on the day. We beat Welwyn at their place, they beat us here. We beat Hendon once and lost one, same with Finchley. 

"It’s a nice league to be in. The travel isn’t too far and the games are all competitive. 

"We’ll bring some players back and hopefully bring some players in. 

"The good thing is we have such a good link with the university. Five of our players in the first team [against Welwyn] are at the University of Hertfordshire. 

"We’ll stick together going forward and keep building."

Elsewhere there were defeats for Old Albanian, Tabard and Verulamians but Harpenden kept tight hold of third place in London One North with two games to go, beating Eton Manor 32-29.