THE GRASS isn’t always greener the other side, which Woking RFC coach Pete D’Cruz can testify first hand, writes Andy Fitzsimons.
A gardener by trade, D’Cruz believes that having the right grass roots and player retention have been the driving force in his side’s quest for promotion.
Woking, who currently reside fourth in the Surrey 4 league table; only four points behind second placed Horley, are now in the ascendancy.
Following impressive back-to-back wins against Haslemere and Raynes Park this year, D’Cruz’s side has amassed 112 points in their last two games, with only six points in reply.
Having narrowly missed out on promotion to the Surrey 3 last season, the Woking coach is confident his side can go one better this season.
He said: After finishing third last year, we knew that we could push again for promotion again this season. That was always a goal of mine, which is shared by the whole team.
“Unfortunately, very early on this season we lost several first team players through injury, which didn’t help; especially in the run up to Christmas where we lost our way a little.
“Continuity was always going to be key, and we haven’t really had that this season. However, I am encouraged by our last few results and the return of a few players from injury. It makes all the difference, as the last few results have shown.
D’Cruz has been particularly impressed with Justin Dougherty, who has seamlessly moved from being a number 10 to a scrum half.
“Justin is a very talented player,” said D’Cruz. “He has the natural attributes to play anywhere he wants to and has done very well at scrum half.
“It’s also great to welcome back Callum Wogan, who has made a big difference to the side at fly-half.
“The league is very strong this year; probably the strongest it’s ever been, so we need our best players on the field,” he added.
D’Cruz believes the key to success is two-fold, which is borne out of giving the players more responsibility to help develop their patterns of play on match days, as well keeping the fulcrum of the squad.
Although the Woking boss believes that none of this would be possible without the WAGs – to coin an infamous term – who remain the unsung heroes behind the scenes.
“It’s all to easy to overlook the support that the Woking players regularly receive from their wives and girlfriends to enable them to train twice a week and play on Saturdays,” explained D’Cruz.
“We may still be an amateur club, but we try and instil an array of professionalism throughout, which requires a commitment from the players. Therefore, without the support from the players’ partners – who may be at home looking after their young children – none of this would be possible. For this, I remain eternally grateful to them.”
When asked about where the club sees itself in five years’ time, D’Cruz commented: “Woking is an ambitious club, which is underpinned by a proactive committee who want the club to gain promotion and even develop a third team.
“This is testament to not just the first team squad, but the second team too who are also vying for promotion from the Surrey Combination 2 South West division.
“Players that join the Woking tend to stay put for some time. I believe this says a lot about our ethos and quality of rugby, but also the social side of things too,” he added.