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Paul Allen gets commitment to the Shelford cause as plans take shape

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Jamie Beswick in action for Shelford. Picture: Cat Goryn
Jamie Beswick in action for Shelford. Picture: Cat Goryn

Paul Allen is starting to put in place plans at Shelford Rugby Club.

He has taken over as head coach at the Davey Field after a difficult few seasons which culminated in them being relegated from London & SE Premier.

Allen has been impressed by the overall atmosphere at the club, despite them winning just two games last season, and believes that will help them rebuild.

“Over the last two or three years, the club itself has been really successful,” he said.

“The membership is brilliant and the social aspect of the club is brilliant but, just for various reasons, the eye was taken off the ball around the senior end of the club, the ones and twos.

“Last year, despite only winning two games, I went away to the last match at Sidcup and it was a good game, a bit of a battle and the team lost but when we had our chat afterwards, it felt like we had won the league because the atmosphere was outstanding.

“We had the twos down to watch, the ones had put everything on the line. That attitude, at the end of a terrible season, I thought what a thing to build on. Despite the difficulties of the season, the lads’ attitude has been outstanding.”

Retaining members of the current squad has been one of the major aims, and two of those to commit their futures are Jamie Beswick and Mike Gillick.

Beswick shattered his knee in the final pre-season match last year, and missed the whole campaign.

“I know that other clubs have been chasing him two or three levels higher, he has said ‘no, Shelford have had a bad couple of years and I want to help them get back on the front foot’,” said Allen. “It is massive for us getting Jamie back on board.”

Gillick had been combining the head coach role and playing for the past two years, but will be able concentrate more on his own game this season.

“It was really tough for him having to coach, play, and do a lot behind the scenes so he will still be part of the coaching team as a player-coach but also have a chance to concentrate on his rugby for a while which he hasn’t been able to for a couple of seasons,” said Allen.

“Having Mike on board is brilliant, it just feels like he’s got a new lease of life now because he’s got a lot more support on the coaching side.”

Senior players Matt Gregerson, Warrick and Miles Anderson, Charlie Baker and Shingai Chiwanga are among others who have committed.

There will also be a focus on developing internal talent.

“We’ve had six academy lads already sit down with me and commit their future as part of the first-team set-up next year,” he said.

“I’m expecting another three or four more at least to just to commit to Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays.

“We’re going to try to test them as high as we can so we can keep Shelford as local as possible, with the obvious caveat that we do need some strength to come in from elsewhere to give us a bit of a boost. But the focus is on the young lads and making them part of the first-team set-up as fast as we can.”

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