UCS Old Boys are in a ‘rebuilding phase’ - and the pressure’s off this term

UCS Old Boys' new captain Matt Jacobs. Pic: Paolo Minoli

UCS Old Boys' new captain Matt Jacobs. Pic: Paolo Minoli - Credit: Archant

UCS Old Boys are in a “rebuilding phase” after their second successive relegation, with a five-year plan to climb two divisions back up the ladder.

But director of rugby Geoff Boxer says there is no pressure on the team this season, and that the focus is on giving young players time to develop and gain experience.

Having dropped from London North-West Division Two into Division Three in 2014, the Old Boys – who play off Ranulf Road in West Hampstead – finished in the bottom two again and now find themselves in Herts/Middlesex Division One.

They kick off away at Verulamians on Saturday and Boxer told Ham&High Sport: “We’re in a rebuilding phase at the club. We feel now we’re in Level Nine we can rebuild and get back to the higher level we were at, in Level Seven, in the next five years.

“The club is strong in terms of its structure and it’s got a good model with players coming through from UCS school.

“We want to get back up to Level Seven but it may take us five years before we’re able to do that. All clubs go through these cycles of having experienced players who come to the end of their careers and move on, and then you build again to get to that level.

“There’s no pressure on the players this year at all really, we want to just let them start to express and enjoy themselves at a level where they can develop. There are a lot of young players coming through, there’s no doubt, and they need time and experience.”

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Matt Jacobs has taken the captain’s armband from Dave O’Dwyer, while UCS have recruited scrum-half Joe Woolley from Tabard.

Openside flanker Stefan Filip is back in action after breaking his leg last campaign, and the Old Boys have a Saracens community development coach, Nick Gourlay – a UCS old boy – at fly-half.

“We’ve retained most of our players even though we’ve dropped a division, and the squad is strong in terms of numbers,” said Boxer.

Matt is an ex-Player of the Year and our most experienced player. We’re looking forward to a strong season from Joe, and Stefan has showed very strong ability in our friendlies. He’s a terrific tackler – one of these all-action opensides.”