Melton RFC champions on the charge

Melton RFC will play Midlands One rugby next term EMN-160413-140520002
Melton RFC will play Midlands One rugby next term EMN-160413-140520002
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Melton RFC head coach Gareth Collins has warned teams in Midland One East they are not coming just to make up the numbers.

The First XV wrapped up their second successive championship with a game to spare on Saturday thanks to a tense 12-10 win at Vipers.

Melton have swept all before them in their last two seasons, winning all but three of their 43 league games.

They face another challenge altogether after clinching the Midlands Two East (South) title, but Collins believes his squad is strong enough to survive and eventually prosper.

“Obviously it’s going to be a step up, but some teams have gone up and stayed there, while some have come straight back down,” he said.

“We have a strong club now with good foundations and good players and I expect us to go and be competitive.

“Newbold Verdon went up last season and finished third so we have to look at their example.

“Naturally there will be many players who see how the club is doing and will want to join us, but I won’t be out searching for players. I want to improve us as individuals and as a side and see where we get to.”

Securing back-to-back league titles for his hometown club is particularly satisfying for skipper Marcus Badham who came through the age group ranks and led the under 17s side to national glory.

He said: “I’d personally like to thank all the players involved who have put the hard work in, week in, week out. We have all earned this together.

“Also a big thanks to the club, especially John Hill, Phil Green, Marcus Twidale and Rob Goldthorpe who have all done a lot of work behind the scenes.”

As well as success on the field, signs point to a healthy future off it, too, with plans at an advanced stage for a new 400-seater stadium to be shared with Melton Mowbray FC.

It is a far cry to the situation just two years ago when the club was relegated to Midlands Three.

Short of players and leadership, the team finished rock bottom, but the return of Badham from Syston was crucial.

He brought along the playing and coaching talents of Collins and secured the return of several homegrown players from higher league clubs.

Club president Rob Goldthorpe said: “When I consider the position we were in a couple of years ago we could well have continued to slide down the leagues, but for some great foresight and planning by club members who recognised the dire plight we were in.

“The whole club is immensely proud of what all the players have achieved in a remarkably short timescale through sheer determination and some real hard work on and off the field.”

The latest championship success means a revision of targets with the three-year plan of two promotions ticked off a season early.

And there’s also the bonus of a trip to Welford Road in early May when Melton play their first-ever senior county cup final against National League Hinckley.

Despite mission accomplished, Collins, who has Championship experience with Rugby Lions, remains committed to Melton for at least another season.

“I knew we had a strong team and squad right from the start, but to achieve this in two years is great,” he added.

“We have continued to progress so it (promotion) wasn’t wholly unexpected, but it was by no means easy.

“Now the aim is to establish the club in the league above and at some point reach the top.”

* Melton RFC wrap up their league campaign at Oadby Wyggs on Saturday. Kick-off 3pm.