New head coach Mark Pollard makes winning start as he sets about getting Gosport & Fareham back on track
Head coach Mark Pollard is setting out to ‘rejuvenate’ Gosport & Fareham Rugby Club after a turbulent few years.
Gosport suffered three relegations in four seasons dropping down from London 1 South to the Hampshire Premier - then the Covid-19 pandemic hit and brought the sport to a standstill in this country last year.
Having wiped out the whole of the 2020-21 season, Pollard, 41, who was appointed to his head coach role in June 2020, has had plenty of time to mull over his plans for a club who have fallen from the sixth tier to the ninth tier of the rugby pyramid in recent times.
But, finally, Gosport's new head coach was able to take charge of his first competitive fixture last weekend - a thumping 28-0 home triumph over Locksheath Pumas.
By his own admission, Pollard knows there are plenty of tougher tests ahead as he plots a way to take his team back up the divisions again.
But, still, some positivity after what has been a tough few years for Gosport was welcomed by Pollard and his squad.
The Gosport & Fareham head coach said: ‘It’s what I can do to give back to the players and try to rejuvenate that love of rugby again.
‘I think 18 months off (because of Covid) has been absolutely pivotal in making people realise how much they’ve missed rugby. Rather than it being week in, week out in their lives - there’s a really good buzz at the club.
‘It was absolutely fantastic (season start). A great way to start the season is a home game with a big crowd supporting you, it’s always nice to get the home support.
‘It was fantastic, the players enjoyed themselves, I would say we’re still a little bit rusty but as a coaching team we’re content with our start. But we’re fully aware we’ve got some tough games coming up this season with the likes of Havant 2s, Eastleigh 2s, Chichester 2s and the other teams.’
Converted tries from Will Larkin, captain Dom Holling, Iain Grice and Ash Wakefield ensured it was the perfect start to life in the Hampshire Premier for Gosport.
It also marked the start of a new era with Pollard at the helm, although it's a club he knows well having spent the past 17 years with the team as a player, coach and now head coach.
He said: ‘I love this club, it’s absolutely fantastic. We’ve been up to the highs of winning the Hampshire Cup and the highs of London 1 a few years ago, but also the lows of suffering relegations in the past few years.
‘We’re just looking forward to taking each game as it comes and then seeing where we sit with the rest of the season, really.’