Bognor flying high in Hampshire One

Danny Passingham on his way to a try against Fordingbridge Picture by Tommy McMillan
Danny Passingham on his way to a try against Fordingbridge Picture by Tommy McMillan

WITH NO senior rugby at Hampshire Avenue this weekend, Bognor enjoyed a well deserved rest before their crucial Christmas run-in.

The first-team have been in fine form so far and currently sit unbeaten at the top of Snows Group Hampshire Division One.

That fine start to the campaign has seen them drop just a solitary point in their opening seven home matches this season.

But it now begins to become a little tricky for Bognor with three tough home games coming up over the festive period.

However, with the backing of locals, the club are hoping they can remain unbeaten until the new year.

For Bognor this season provides a great opportunity for their youthful side to gain promotion back into the London leagues.

The vast majority of the side have endured a turbulent few seasons since 2011.

A dismal few campaigns have seen Bognor slip down the leagues and back-to-back relegations were suffered in that run between 2011 and 2012.

But in recent seasons a rebuilding process began at the club and, under the stewardship of former first-team players Karl Flinn, Stuart Pearce, Leighton Thomas and Steve Dove, their fortunes have began to change.

At the start of the current campaign Bognor found a new coaching duo in the form of Martin Broome and Rob Outen.

Broome, who is a Bognor stalwart having been at the club for a number of years, was joined by Outen.

Outen has been around Sussex rugby for a while and has time with East Grinstead, Worthy Abbey and Uckfield on his impressive CV.

Outen and Broome have managed to get this youthful outfit playing some really exciting rugby week in, week out.

It’s something that joint-boss Outen is really enjoying.

He said: “It’s a great thrill to work with these guys - we’ve got a lot of young talent, the likes of which has not been seen since I played for Bognor as a colt.

“We have a vision to get this great community club back where it belongs.”

Bognor’s core squad has been bolstered this season with a number of new additions.

Irishman Patrick Gibbs returned from a brief stint with Worthing Raiders, while Joe Greenslade has put in some fine displays in his first full season with the senior side.

The impressive 20-year-old Tom James is continuing to develop into a fine lock. This week has also seen the addition of two former National League players and they could well go into the squad for this weekends home clash with Sandown & Shanklin on Saturday.

Club chairman John Donoghue is hoping his side’s good early season will see and increase in numbers at Hampshire Avenue.

He said: “We are a community club who endeavour to provide a wonderful atmosphere to enjoy rugby - on the pitch, on the touchline and in the bar.

“Come down and join us to watch the first-team take on Sandown & Shanklin on Saturday.”

Saturday’s home clash with Sandown and Shanklin kicks off a crucial period for them before 2016.

A run of three successive home games could prove of added importance as they go for the title tilt.

After Sandown and Shanklin, Ellingham and Ringwood make the trip before Fareham Heathens are the final side to visit Hampshire Avenue in 2015 with all three starting at 2.30pm.

For more information on all things Bognor Rugby Club you can visit their Facebook page, Twitter (@BognorRFC), Instagram (Bognor_Rugby_Club) or on the website www.pitchero.com/clubs/bognorrfc.

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