It may be mid-summer, but Holt Rugby Club will hold their first training session for next season on the evening of Thursday 6th July. This will take place at the Bridge Road ground starting at 1900 and training sessions will continue every Tuesday and Thursday thereafter. All involved at the club are optimistic that a good season lies ahead under coach Ed Steed and new captain Ashley Woods.
This season Holt will be competing in the newly formed London NE3 Eastern Counties League. As Club President Paul Williams puts it: “We are greatly looking forward to our games against our old friends and rivals – for example, West Norfolk (who play at Kings Lynn), Thetford, Ely and Southwold. Recruitment to date has gone well and we welcome the challenge of some new opponents and can realistically hope for good results.” Importantly the new league will be formed solely of teams from Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridge so the long travel distances to the outskirts of London will no longer be a factor. Not only will this make life easier for the players, particularly those with young families, but also Holt’s excellent traveling supporters will be able to attend more away games.
As in previous season's, Holt will be fielding three senior sides every weekend together with the flourishing youth and minis. As an indication of the local enthusiasm for the game, some thirty players with ages that range from fifteen to Ken Swallow’s eighty-six have been turning out for touch rugby every Thursday over the close season.
The new Holt First XV Captain, Ashley Woods, is himself is a product of junior rugby at Holt. He can play in the second or back rows and his Vice-Captain will be another second-row forward, Robbie Gray. One new feature for 2016/7 is the introduction of weight training. This will take place on Saturday mornings at the clubhouse and will be supervised by a former first XV prop forward, Chris Hill. The club committee have been pleasantly surprised at the amount of interest, and the numbers enrolling for this new initiative. Whether this, and the new on-field leadership, could herald a different style of play is under wraps at this stage. All Holt supporters are looking forward to the first match, away at Stowmarket on September 9th, and the first home game against old rivals West Norfolk the following Saturday 16th.
This article first appeared, in a slightly different version, in the North Norfolk News (6th July 2017). Text Martyn Sloman; picture Stuart Young, showing Ashley Woods in action.
Updated 21:20 - 25 Sep 2017 by Joanna Storey