Oakham RFC have one of the most experienced men in British rugby helping oversee them for the new season when they will be playing in a new league.
Former Leicester Tiger and England under 21 coach Ian (Dosser) Smith will help assistant coach and centre Tom Armstrong.
Smith, now the rugby master at Oakham School, played more than 300 games for the Tigers and has coached teams for the England under-21 squad. Last season he was head coach at Melton RFC.
And Oakham might just need some extra help this season as a league shake-up has seen them relocated into Midlands Two East South, across from the North division, meaning there will be no league derbies with Stamford this season.
Oakham will play the likes of Peterborough, Stewarts & Lloyds and Leicester Forest.
Armstrong said: “It is a slightly harder league. The teams are just tougher, they tend to have big packs which always makes life difficult.
“We have got a few young lads come in and a couple of new players to training. But it is the same story with this club every year. They look good and then go off to uni.
“We have had decent numbers at training and everyone seems pretty keen for it.”
Oakham have warmed up for the new season with two pre-season games. The first a 12-10 loss to Huntingdon and the second a 19-12 away win at Northampton Boys Brigade Old Boys.
Armstrong said: “We were a bit rusty but looked good. Defensively we were good and probably should have scored some more tries.”
Oakham face Market Harborough first in the league and coach Armstrong feels that it will be a good test of where they are at as a team and how well they will be able to compete in their new league. Harborough finished midtable last season.
The match will be the First XI’s inaugural competitive game at their new home - The New Showground (see p3). Kick off is at 3pm.