Title-winning Stamford Rugby Club have regained their place in Midlands 2 East (South)
Stamford Rugby Club are back where they belong after being crowned Midlands 3 East (South) champions.
The Hambleton Road side lost just three of their 18 league games this season and racked up nearly 500 points during the campaign.
With the RFU electing to calculate the final positions to ensure promotion and relegation, Stamford finished top of the table ahead of derby rivals Oakham.
It ensured a return to Midlands 2 East (South) following their relegation in 2018 and the promotion heartbreak of last season where they missed out on going up by virtue of the number of games won after finishing level on points with second-placed Northampton Casuals.
The title triumph and promotion capped a memorable first campaign at the helm for head coach Auz Schwarz who is eagerly awaiting the challenges ahead.
Schwarz said: “We’re really excited for next season. We know it’s going to be a challenge going into that league because there’s some really big teams in there.
“Some of those teams have played the majority of their rugby in Midlands One and higher when you look at the likes of Northampton Old Scouts, Wellingborough and Bugbrooke.
“But the two teams who beat us to promotion last season – Northampton Casuals and Leicester Forest – have both been comfortable this season.
“It’s going to be a tough league, but it’s what everybody says that they wanted and what the goals were at the start of the season.
“We didn’t actually say we wanted to win the league or get promotion, but ultimately the goal was to play the best rugby we could play and we are now going to get that opportunity.
“We’re already starting to plan and look at recruitment because I’m confident we can take the step up in our stride.
“The difference will be that there won’t be many 50 or 60 point games next season. The matches will all between five and 20-point games.
“There will not be the humpings in that league unless you get a team who are really struggling.”
Stamford collected just two wins from 22 games in their last time at the Midlands 2 East (South) level.
But Schwarz feels that they are better equipped this time around after a positive campaign both on and off the pitch.
He added: “We brought in a lot of new lads in the year that we went down, but we were only losing games by 10 or 12 points. It was just unfortunate that we were always on the wrong side of it because it is a more competitive league.
“Teams are fitter and you do face some bigger clubs. People like Old Scouts run four teams so we’re coming up against some bigger clubs.
“We’ve played at that level for seven out of the last 10 years though so we know what to expect. We know about the differences that we are going to come up against and one of the key things will be keeping hold of the people we have got and adding to it.
“That’s not just the strength of the personnel but also numbers because this year it’s been proved in having 20-odd players who threw their hat into the ring every week.
“We need that consistency and continuity because for me that’s important. It’s not about having one star player. That will help at times, but if that star player goes or has an injury then all of a sudden the team is in trouble. We will not be in that position.
“It is a step up for us, but I think it’s one that we’ll be more than capable of coping with. The squad of players is probably the best we’ve had for quite a long time. I think it’s our level. We’ve competed at it for several years and we’ve been pretty consistent for the past couple of seasons.
“We’ve played and beaten teams from that level in cups over the past couple of seasons so I’m confident that we will compete. It’s not a concern because it’s where we want to be.
“We don’t want to be going out and putting 50 or 60 points past teams because that isn’t beneficial for anybody.
“There will be some teams in there that I fully expect to be better than us but that’s what raises your game.
“This season has been good and we’ve had nothing but positive feedback, but things can always be better.
“We’re really pleased because there’s been a really good spirit down at the club this season.
“We’ve had a lot of people on the sidelines, some new faces and older ones, and even through some of the weather that we have had we’ve still got some reasonable crowds.
“We’ve had some really good club days and it feels like there is a really good buzz around the club at the moment which is great and it’s making people want to be part of it.”