PRESIDENT Kevin Wrathall believes that Burton RFC have the coaching setup in place to compete in a division above, but admits that the club faces “challenges” to meet the financial requirements that promotion would bring.
The Crofters are currently second in Midlands 1 West, and if they can maintain that position until the end of the season, they will face a play-off against their counterparts from Midlands 1 East – probably local rivals Derby – in a battle to go up to National 3 Midlands.
Wrathall said: “The first team are doing really well, and although first place is probably now a stretch, second is most definitely within our reach.
“It is still within our control and although we had slipped up a little lately, we are definitely back on track following the gritty win against Kenilworth, and our goal is still to reach the plays-offs and have the opportunity to challenge for promotion.
“Promotion is our objective as National 3 Midlands is the league we feel we should be operating in, but we need to look to develop a squad capable of staying and competing in that league.
“That presents us with some challenges as player payment is more the norm in the league above.
“With Steve Smith leading it and Steve Briggs managing it we have a good senior set up and coupled with Tom Barlow and Nick Adams and the rest of our coaching team it is one of the best around irrespective of the league we are in.”
In a ‘New Year’ statement published this week that ran to several pages, Wrathall also found time to praise the club’s other outfits, and highlighted the importance of having a number of teams supporting the first string.
“The A team, under the captaincy of Alex Reeve and leadership of Chris Ariss, are also having a good season, despite the challenges faced by call ups by the first team due to injuries and unavailability,” he said.
“A special mention to Kieran Dadley and the B team, as fielding the Bs has been a challenge due to the availability of a player pool.
“We are in desperate need of a B team manager to support Kieran and lighten the workload, so please look at the advert and volunteer.
“Social rugby is important to Burton as we are a community club promoting rugby for all and the loss of third team will have serious implications for the As and first team, and the club in the longer term.
“The Vets under Chris Samways and John Cartwright plough their own unique furrow, keeping many old fires burning for many seasoned players, and also supporting the Bs if required.
“The Academy goes from strength to strength, now incorporating the Under-16s.
“It is starting to pay dividends as we are starting to see the transition of players into the senior ranks and also players returning to play back at Burton as a choice.
“Additionally, the quality of coaching is allowing players to realise their potential, and being talent-spotted by Leicester Tigers and Gloucester academies.
“The mini junior section is always one that astounds me as it is a massive entity with up to 400-500 kids every Sunday morning, organised to train and play every week like a well-oiled machine.
“Considering training and playing venues can be changed to any one of the various places around because our lack of centralised facilities, this is great testament to all the committee, players, families, managers and coaches.”