Everyone at Hamilton Rugby Club is starting with a clean slate, says new manager Kenny Brown, who wants to bring fun back to the club.
Brown was appointed by the Laigh Bent club in April, following David Gemmell’s decision to step down after the team were relegated from National League 1 at the end of last season.
He and assistant Alex Edmonstone bring with them a wealth of experience at high levels of the game, and it’s believed that Hamilton grabbed their signatures ahead of a host of other clubs.
Brown is a former Bulls player, knows what the club is all about, and just wants people to enjoy their rugby again.
Any thoughts of returning to National League 1 will come after that.
“The aim for next season is to enjoy our rugby, get the boys playing some good rugby,” said Brown.
“We have a big squad, really close links between the firsts and seconds. We want a really healthy squad of players, all playing good rugby.”
“Obviously with new coaches coming in it’s a good chance to start afresh, and some players to step up, and kind of look at what we’ve got.”
“We have a lot of young boys, and the key thing for us is to have a really healthy squad of senior players here, be it 1st, 2nds or 3rds – even in terms of under-18s and youths, and things like that.”
“I think we’re a big club. Our ambitions are to be playing in the higher leagues, but this is going to be a very competitive league in National 2, and the whole landscape of rugby has changed with Super Six.”
“Some clubs are putting out really strong squads in the league, so we can’t take anything for granted.”
“We have a really tough year ahead of us, but we would like to start winning and see where we get to.”
“Come mid-season we can then start thinking about what that looks like, in terms of promotion and championships, but I think the first thing for Alex and I will be to get in and start enjoying our rugby, getting to know the boys, hopefully playing some good stuff, and have good fun.”
Brown doesn’t feel that a restructuring job needs to be done at Hamilton, and will add players to it, rather than making sweeping changes.
He said: “I don’t think we have a lot of rebuilding to do, I think we have a really healthy squad of boys.
“We have a fantastic youth set-up, which produces one of the best youth sections in the country, and we retain players really well as a club, so I think there’s a really healthy squad of players here.”
“I don’t think it’s a challenge to rebuild the squad or anything like that, just a chance to freshen it up.”
“I think we have some really talented players here, we have some really talented young players coming through, and we’ve had guys playing in the Scotland under-18s team, for instance.”
“We want to create an environment that keeps these boys here, that they don’t feel they want to go and play their rugby elsewhere, and I think that’s probably the challenge, rather than piloting boys in.”
“I think we have the makings of a squad that can achieve whatever it is we want to achieve and progress up the leagues, because that’s what we want to do.”
One of the many attractions that led Brown to taking the reins at Hamilton is the capability of the club to compete at the highest levels.
“The potential at this club is huge,” he said. “We’ve probably got one of the biggest and best youth sections in the country, we’ve got some of the best facilities and resources in the country, so there’s no reason why the senior section can’t be right amongst that.”
“We have great players, coaches, the club support is all there, so there is huge potential, but I think the key thing for us is that we achieve our potential, whatever that looks like, and everyone’s enjoying it – and it’s a good place to be.”
“I don’t want to become single-minded in that we want to get into Premier 1, and that means that if you get there suddenly everything’s rosy.”
“I think it’s about getting a really healthy, vibrant club from top to bottom, and that can look like lots of different things, so that’s what we’re excited about.”
“It’s a really exciting job and a really exciting challenge.”
“The club is held in the highest regard in Scottish Rugby, they were Club of the Year last season, and through lots of hard work, volunteers and people over the years, the club has pushed itself into that tier of being one of the best clubs in the country.”
“It’s a no-brainer as an opportunity for me, because if you want to come in and coach club rugby, it’s one of the picks of them.”
“It’s testament to the work of all the guys who have been here previously that have put the club where it is now, from where it was.”
Alex ‘Eck’ Edmonstone was Brown’s first and only choice as assistant, as soon as he got the call from Hamilton, and he’s happy to be back working with him.
“It’s great to have Alex on board,” said Brown.
“Alex and I have worked previously, we’ve both worked with Scottish Rugby, so it’s exciting to bring him in, and some of the other coaches.”
“I knew the timing would work out well. As soon as I started working with the club I started talking to Alex hypothetically – if this all came off, would he be interested – and it’s brilliant that things lined up that way.”
“I think he’s exactly what we need. He’s mostly focused on defence, and bits and pieces for us, he has lots of ideas, and he hasn’t been coaching for a while, so he’s coming into it with loads of energy and enthusiasm.”
“It’s a nice balance, he knows more about rugby than I do, and you should always surround yourself with people who know more than you do!”
*Article by Andy McGilvray
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