‘We’ve just got to be better than we were last time and that was relegation. If we can improve from there, then we have been successful,’ said Guernsey’s director of rugby Jordan Reynolds while his squad went through their final-week preparations for Saturday’s opener at Worthing.
Raiders secured promotion back to the fourth level of the RFU ladder at the first time of asking in the 2019-20 campaign, which was curtailed due to Covid.
The pandemic ensured that it was not an ‘immediate’ return, but rather an 18-month wait to play competitive rugby, which means Reynolds and his troops are champing at the bit to get going, despite having to start with four away fixtures on the bounce due to travel restrictions.
Listen to a full interview with Jordan Reynolds on the latest Guernsey Press Sport Podcast:
But just what will be required to survive in this 16-team league come next April?
‘It’s very difficult because we won eight games last time and we had something like 42 points. If you look at the [following] season, teams were staying up with 35 points, so actually what we did in that season was really good,’ Reynolds said.
‘But you can’t really apply that to the set of circumstances this year. I think we obviously want to be out of that relegation zone, we do have a certain spot that we want to be attacking around that mid-table. Is it achievable? I think it is.
‘We’ve learnt a lot from where we are, the players are excited about it, and I think the one thing that really showed the last time we were in National Two is even though we lost a lot of games, five of our last eight games were wins, so it showed that we never gave up the entire time.’
As for being on the road for September, Reynolds is realistic about his side’s prospects in the first month.
‘There are huge challenges there for us, but we are not too worried about the fact that we have to play away, we’re just excited that we get to play rugby and we are using that enthusiasm at the moment to hopefully boost us into these games.
‘But look, it’s a tall order. If we were to win one, I think people would say that was successful. If we were to win two, I think that would be pretty fantastic.
‘I do feel like we have to be picking up a couple of wins, especially in the first six games, otherwise it’s going to be a tough season.’