No blues for Oxford coach ahead of professional debut
Oxford coach Tony Benson is relishing the prospect of seeing his side take to the field for their professional debut when they travel to face the University of Gloucestershire All Golds at the Prince of Wales Stadium, Cheltenham (3.00pm) on Good Friday.
Rugby League’s newest club begin their Kingstone Press Championship One campaign against the All Golds, fellow newcomers to the professional ranks, and with a blend of experienced heads and local talent, including a few International caps between them for good measure, Benson is excited about what the season holds.
“I’m very excited about the upcoming weekend,” said Benson. “It’s just fantastic to be involved with this club as we get prepared to take the next step on the journey.
“To see how far we have come since last September, when there really wasn’t any ‘club’ here to speak of, to now having a home at Iffley Road and a squad full of players who are full of enthusiasm and raring to go, is something that gives me great deal of pride to be involved with.
“When I look at where we are and the squad we have there’s a lot of satisfaction and pride at that transition.
“If we can be competitive in all our games and play an entertaining style of Rugby League to attract the local fans, continue to develop strong links with local clubs and develop local players, then I think the future will be bright for Oxford.”
The All Golds have an early advantage over their visiting opponents having already competed in the Northern Rail Cup this season, recording their first ever professional win in the process, but Benson says that isn’t worrying him.
“We’ve watched to see how they have gone on and there have been some very good results so far,” he said. “The All Golds have stayed close in their games and they showed that they can certainly be competitive by beating an established club like Gateshead.
“We won’t worry about them, though, and we’ll be focusing on ensuring we play to the best level we can. The lads have trained really hard since we first got together and their attitude so far has been excellent.
“They copped a lot of criticism from me in the early sessions but they’ve all dug deep and when we trained last week there was a real feeling of professionalism around the group and now they’re all itching to go.
“They’ve been a bit like caged animals for the last few weeks having watched the Northern Rail Cup games and seeing the other teams in action. They’re all pushing hard to be selected for that first game on Good Friday and the reality that the season is starting is hitting home for us all now.
“We’ve made a lot of progress so far and the challenge is to keep working hard and building on that.”
Tickets for the University of Gloucestershire All Golds v Oxford Rugby League game at the Prince of Wales Stadium on Good Friday (3.00pm) can be purchased by visiting http://www.allgoldsrugby.com/tickets/#.UVF-RxzjcVZ