Haringey coach Finnegan backs relegated Rhinos to charge back up

Haringey Rhinos start life in unfamiliar surroundings in Herts/Middlesex Division One this weekend after last season’s relegation.

Haringey’s first XV endured a difficult campaign last term, finishing bottom of London North-West Division Three and dropping down a step.

However, they are returning to action with a new director of rugby, Tim Hutchins, a new manager in Mick Finnegan – who works as a professional community coach with London Irish – and a new club captain in Tom Armer.

The pre-season preparations have been the best in years, with more than 50 players regularly attending training – and the two senior men’s sides have a list of nearly 100 registered on the roster so confidence is high for the forthcoming season.

The Rhinos suffered a setback in their final pre-season friendly on Saturday, going down 25-15 at home against Saracens Amateur at New River Sports Centre, having led 15-10 at half-time.

However, despite that disappointment, Finnegan has high hopes as his side prepare for their opening game at Old Actonians on Saturday.

“We’ll be aiming for the top four places, if not promotion,” he said. “I know this league fairly well, I played for Bank of England quite recently, and I’ve studied a few of the teams and looked at their pre-season results.

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“Inevitably, with relegation, a lot of players leave and the club looks very different from how it did a couple of years ago – but promotion is a realistic goal if we play a structured game and keep it simple.

“I’m positive that the Rhinos can get the results that we need, and find that consistency, and hopefully we can get Haringey back where they belong, which is in London Division Three. It’s a great club with a family ethos and a real community focus.”

Meanwhile, Haringey’s women’s team are about to begin their second season. Having been founded in 2011 by Marghe Hedie, the side has slowly been building a player base, and they will travel to face Beccles on Sunday.

The Rhinos’ youth section is also continuing to go from strength to strength after its inception in 2011.

The initial concept was to run an Under-13s side but, less than two years on, the club finished last season with Under-eight, Under-nine, Under-11, Under-13, Under-14 and Under-16 teams. They are now running nine age groups for boys and girls aged between five and 18.

Director of youth rugby Helen Rayfield said: “Haringey is committed to providing rugby for the entire community and, as such, we only charge a nominal membership fee for the whole season and get the rest of the money needed through fundraising.”

Haringey’s men’s and women’s teams train between 7-9pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays at New River Sports Centre, and new players of all ages and abilities are welcome. The youth section trains every Sunday from 11am to 1pm.