Walsham take stock after play-off blow

CHRIS LAKEY North Walsham are likely to hold on to their status as one of the country's best amateur rugby clubs - for the time being at least. The Scottow-based club is destined to spend another season in National League Division Three South after promotion slipped out of their hands in the final, crucial stages.

CHRIS LAKEY

North Walsham are likely to hold on to their status as one of the country's best amateur clubs - for the time being at least.

The Scottow-based club is destined to spend another season in National League Division Three South after promotion slipped out of their hands in the final, crucial stages.

But paying players in a bid to move up the rugby ladder is not on the club's immediate agenda, according to chairman George Ashall, who will meet with director of rugby Jon Curry, possibly before the end of the month, to discuss the options for next season.


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“We will sit down and will talk to Jon,” he said. “We are not a money club, we rely on our members, we rely on the people locally and within Norfolk. We have always believed that in terms of playing players, that is not sustainable.

“We would need a serious cash injection here for us to physically do that. I am not saying we never will, you can never say that.

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“It is not a plan, but we will sit down with Jon and say, 'right, if we really want to make that next step, what do we have to do to do it?'

“If it means paying players to attract the players that we need we may have to. But let's not forget, we have used 50 players this season, of which 27 are from Norfolk and that's great for the county.

“So, yes, it is something we are going to have to think about and whatever decision we reach will be the one that's right for this club.”

It's unlikely that there will be an inquest over what happened to Walsham's title challenge which initially stumbled at Southend three weeks ago when their one-point defeat handed the automatic promotion spot to Cambridge. They got a second chance via a play-off against Nuneaton - the division's North section runners-up on Saturday, but, with key players missing and a three-weak break from action to make up for, they blew it.

However, despite that disappointment, the season will go down as the best in the club's 44-year history.

“We should just think back,” said Easthall. “North Walsham have never ever been in this position before.

“I was talking with the youth and mini people at their AGM and asked how you measure success. Is it the amount of games you win, or the fact that your children come here at seven years old to play rugby and leave at 16 and how much better are they for that?

“So how do you measure it?

“We have had a really cracking season - we have just not managed to make that step up.”

The positive signs were there for all to see as a crowd of 1300 - the biggest ever seen at Scottow, and possibly for a rugby match in the county - hugged the touchlines.

“I am really pleased that Norfolk and North Walsham came out come out and supported the team,” said Ashall. “The guys on the pitch have done their absolute utmost.

“It wasn't to be, that's obviously disappointing for them and for the supporters. But for everyone who came out, what can you say but thankyou very much for coming and supporting the guys.”

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