Rebuilding. There were many changes heading into the new season for the senior heren. A change in coaching and management staff, players moving on to other clubs, no new international players, a new competition format in the Ereklasse division and a new cluster team for Oemoemenoe 2 which resulted in a downgrade to 4e klasse. Of all the changes that occurred, the one with the most impact was the change in our pool of players, where youth and enthusiasm outweighed experience. Andi and I started planning our season in July and it was clear this year would be one of ‘rebuilding’.
Our pre-season got off to a great start. Our numbers at training ranged between 20 to 40 players. Andi and I wanted as much pre-season game time as possible to test player combinations and new systems. We were lucky enough to host Ecklo for our club day, attend the Rhino’s toernooi in Belgium and play for the Jean-Louis Le Grand cup in Tovaal. The game time was valuable as Andi and I could identify player strengths and weaknesses. I must mention the inclusion of some of our Colt players was a highlight for me. They really stepped up during some difficult games and I look forward to seeing them in the Heren klasse soon.
The season proper started with an unusual format for Ereklasse. A defaulted win, a close loss and a painful defeat placed us in the trophy pool this year. We struggled with numbers for both our gameswhich took some strength away from our player combinations. Our reserves for each game were debutant players to the Ereklasse division which reinforced this year’s theme of rebuilding. Although Oemoemenoe 2 are a cluster team, it has also been difficult securing players for our games. Our first game we played with only 13 and the remaining two games we managed 13 players again but with more reserves coming from our Ereklasse team. Oemie 2 have three wins to date. Training attendance has remained steady.
Aside from coaching, I have been busy with rugby clinics in schools and the launch of our new rugby academy. Tuesdays and Thursdays are dedicated to clinics. In September, Mel and I delivered 44 sessions of our ‘introduction to rugby’ to 949 students at 11 different schools. It is very rewarding coaching in the community and the feedback from the students and teachers has been positive. We also began our rugby academy in September. We were pleasantly surprised at the interest from our younger players! The academy was originally targeted at 14 to 16 years, but our Mini and Benjamin players are so enthusiastic we have decided to run two sessions on Monday night to accommodate the different age groups.
Now that we are settled into the season, I am optimistic that this year of rebuilding will set a good foundation for Oemoemenoe moving forward.