THE bulk of the big names may have gone but the dream of building a local team full of local lads is alive and well at Birmingham Solihull Rugby Club.
Bees have gone from the Championship through National League One to National League Two North in the space of two years and coach Eugene Martin is under no illusions about what lies ahead, but he’s satisfied with player progess so far.
“We’re looking to promote a lot of the very successful Colts team we had last year - they’re a young squad but I’m very happy with the way they’re shaping up,” said the Kiwi who was assistant coach to Russell Earnshaw last year.
One problem is recruiting front row players, an area where last year Bees dominated.
“Back in the 1990s and 2000s there was a call for teams that could kick goals and retain the ball,” said Martin.
“These days your priority is your front five and getting players for the front row is our main concern.”
The further down the leagues teams go the harder it is to recruit specialists - and their replacements - as Martin acknowledges, hence the desire to develop homegrown talent.
“I’m not sure what our prospects are; for me it’s all about wanting to be at the very top and we have the talent here to equip the players with the skills they need to go out and be successful, but it is up to them to go out there and put it into action.
“It’s all about enjoyment and responsibility, and playing for the club colours.”
Bees fans will pleased to know that this year there will be no trips to Jersey on the cards, or down to the south west or London.
Instead Bees can look forward to local fixtures against Stourbridge, also relegated last year, Bromsgrove, and Old Luctonians, coached by former Bees stalwart Alex Davidson, as well as further afield at clubs like Preston, Hull, and Sheffield.
l Bees said a fond farewell to former director of rugby Russell Earnshaw at The Portway on Wednesday evening.
The England Sevens coach stood down at the end of last season.