Services keen to make mark on and off pitch

United Services director of rugby Simon Burns
United Services director of rugby Simon Burns
Sam Foster

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Director of rugby Simon Burns is determined to help United Services recapture some of their former glories.

Burns, along with his team, also aims to develop a ‘one-club’ mentality and see links with the Portsmouth community strengthened.

Services were once one of the leading lights alongside Havant, Basingstoke, Portsmouth and Gosport & Fareham in the Hampshire rugby scene, but in recent years have found themselves marooned in the lower reaches of the league.

Burns’ side finished third in Hampshire one last season.

He is optimistic, however, they can improve on that this time around.

United Services start their home campaign against Alton at Burnaby Road tomorrow.

They are bidding to build on two excellent away wins already in the bank.

‘We feel we have already come a long way in the past 12 months,’ said Burns.

‘The navy has made a huge commitment in the club and there is a new feel about it.

‘When I first took on my role six months ago my aspiration was to help the club progress up the leagues.

‘That goal has widened and now we are committed to driving a one-club attitude to develop all aspects and members.

‘As a club we have a perfect opportunity to make a difference.

‘The coaching team, headed up by the well-respected Brian Saunders, is as good as it gets.

‘We also have Will Brewer, after a successful career with the RAF, heading up our community rugby project.

‘The idea is to adopt nearby schools with a view to setting up a rugby academy at Burnaby Road.

‘We have great facilities and there is a tremendous friendly atmosphere throughout the club.’

On the field, Services have made a perfect start to their league campaign, with hard-fought wins at Farnborough and Aldershot & Fleet.

The club has attracted a number of new players who have come in and bolstered an already useful squad.

‘We have made a good start but it is not just about getting promotion,’ said Burns.

‘For the first time in a while we have had players wanting to come and play for us rather than us scraping around for players.

‘It is now all about creating the infrastructure and environment that will enable us to build for the future.’

United Services: Bob Hoskins, Dave Flynn, Tom Cantwell, Lewis Andrews, Alex Doolan, Andy Webster, Gregor Irvine, Mark Humberstone, Dave Reed, Ben Lanigan, Dainius Baltrukenas, Trevor McAlister, Luke Osborne, Gareth Guyll, Bagsey Baker, Ali Randall, Oli Smith, Ben Campbell