Rugby Union: Barking head coach Ollie Smith ready for challenge of London Two South East
PUBLISHED: 09:30 08 June 2017
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Gale Street club only team north of river Thames in division next season, but former British & Irish Lions tourist is upbeat about travels
Barking head coach Ollie Smith admits next season will be a step into the unknown after the club were placed in London Two South East.
After dropping down from London One North, Barking are the only team north of the river Thames in a division that also includes Beckenham, Pulborough, Dartfordians, Charlton Park, Old Alleynians, Horsham, Haywards Heath, Heathfield, Dover, Deal and Hove.
It means the Gale Street club will be making frequent trips south of the river, which Smith knows puts a bit more pressure on finances.
“It’s not ideal being in Two South East, but we’ve had a chat as a club and the budget creeps up a little, with a bit more support from the RFU.
“We do lose derby fixtures, which is a shame, but it’s a new challenge; we’re playing a lot of new teams, so we can create some new history.
“It’s unchartered territory in a way as we’re heading to new grounds, but it will be a good experience.”
Having spent so long in the ‘north’ divisions of London rugby, Barking will be playing many teams for the first time next term, but Smith believes the opponents will know all about his team.
“I’m sure the clubs in this division will have a look and see we weren’t too far off being in the Championship a few seasons back,” he added.
“Barking is a good name in rugby, so it might be the case that teams raise their game against us.
“We want to get back up to London One as quickly as possible, but we know it will be tough as the opposition are unknown quantities, but so are we.”
Barking begin the new season on the road at Dartfordians on September 9, but Smith is unconcerned about starting away from home.
“Whatever level you play at, you want to start well and after the tough 12 months we’ve had, it’s even more important,” he said.
“If you want to go up, you have to win on the road, so the target for the opening day will be to go to Dartfordians and lay down a marker.”