Portsmouth primed to make most of 2016

Ben Dudley, left. Picture: Neil Marshall
Ben Dudley, left. Picture: Neil Marshall

Cornborough helps England notch first victory

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Nigel Morgan believes Portsmouth are in good shape heading into the new year.

Not only is the senior side sitting in the top four of London two south west but the club as a whole is going from strength to strength.

The Rugby Camp outfit is benefiting from the World Cup which took place earlier this season – even though hosts England were a huge letdown.

‘We continue to be the only club in Hampshire who regularly put out five senior men’s teams on a Saturday,’ said Morgan, who is Portsmouth’s director of rugby.

‘The World Cup may not have been very successful for the England team and its coaches but the tournament has had a very positive effect on us.

‘It inspired at least 30 new players to try the game with us and about 20 stayed and are playing regularly.

‘There is a real buzz around the club at the moment with the first 15 in their highest league position for three years. Fourth place in the league and 33 points at the halfway stage reflects the enormous amount of work our two senior coaches Ben Dudley and Jim Pearce have put in.

‘But it is not just about the first team.

‘Our veterans’ team remain undefeated and are top of the Solent merit two table.

‘The second, third and fourth teams continue to enjoy their rugby, even if they have not always picked up the results they deserved.’

Much of the club’s success stems from the high numbers attending training – with more than 50 appearing on most Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

The club have also put into place a number of new initiatives.

Dudley’s contacts with the University of Portsmouth has given the club access to four strength-and-conditioning masters students.

They have worked with the players since pre-season, setting up individual training programmes, taking fitness sessions, fitness testing and liaising with the physiotherapists to help with rehabilitation after injuries.

Under the guidance of Brian Saunders, a player profiling scheme has also been put into place.

This involves 12 ex-players and coaches helping a number of first-team players improve their games.

The process involves looking at the technical, tactical, physical and mental aspects of the game.

Morgan appreciates the value and contribution of the many individuals involved on the different fronts.

‘There are a lot of people giving up their time and expertise,’ he said.

‘Closer links have also been forged with the junior club and our coaches have held training sessions with a number of different age groups.

‘Senior players are also encouraged to get involved on Sunday mornings.

‘We have had a good first half of the season and must look to keep it going.’