Lincoln is widely regarded as being a football city. Lincoln City is beloved by many and received a large amount of publicity last season during their famous FA cup run. Lincoln also, however, has a very successful rugby club.
North Hykeham Rugby Club have started the season in incredible form, winning eight out of nine games. That loss coming in a tight game, losing only to a late bonus point. The club is now chasing promotion, the NLD cup and recently got into the fourth round of the RFU Midlands Junior Vase.
They manage this success, though, with very little recruitment. Will Beane, head coach at the club said that recruitment does suffer, though they have had a good intake this year.
Will said: “We have had a really positive influx this year. We are actually over prescribed, though it’s a nice problem to have. We have quite a few intellectual players that have come through. They’ve basically brought a different dynamic to how we play.”
The large influx in new players is not always a positive thing though. Rugby is a competitive sport and so there can be tensions between old and new players and the young people need to learn the systems of the team. The young ones also need to become familiar with the coaching staff, though this isn’t an issue for North Hykeham.
Will said: “Luckily enough, a lot of players that have come in, I either know or have coached before or I know people who know them. The majority of them will be RAF players as well so they come with their own issues, but it’s a lot easier with them, than with the young players.”
“It’s not bad. When you’ve got a lot of new players come in there is always that discord with the players from before, especially when the new players start taking playing shirts.”
Even with the club’s success, Will says they are still going through these teething problems with the new recruits. He said the team probably “won’t get out of that until you get towards the end of the season.” He claims that’s when everyone starts settling down and the old players “pick up their dummies and teddy bears, come back and get involved again.”
North Hykeham have now beaten three teams who are in league above them “quite comfortably.” He says they achieve this by playing more experienced players against teams in their league, while. The higher the opposition, the less experienced players will be selected.
This is because he believes that teams in the same league will try to draw Hykeham into playing “old style rugby”, and so the experienced players are needed to maintain their style.
Will hopes that the game will now only continue to grow in Lincoln. He said: “Hopefully the whole culture will change. The RFU are pumping a lot more money into school development programmes and getting people like myself to come in and do coaching sessions with children.
“We’ve got now an affiliation with three schools in the local area, which is our catchment area for any youth players coming in.”
The club also has four coaches at the club, so they can pay attention to the players who are newer to the game and do not have a lot, if any experience playing rugby.
Twickenham is also starting to host more NFL games this year, helping to promote, both American football over here in the UK and rugby over in the USA. Will said: “The NFL can only have a positive effect.”
Hykeham currently sit second in the league with 13 points, five off of first with a game in hand.