It has been an interesting couple of months at London Welsh, but with promotion to the Aviva Premiership now confirmed, the whole club is buzzing!
From my point of view, it’s so hard to articulate how it feels to achieve a goal that every week we had built towards from late June 2011 to May 30th 2012. Every result at the weekend would be working us into position for the play-offs. Lyn Jones came to the club with a squad not of his own, with a different way of playing and he said to us from day one, that we wouldn’t be the finished article until February at the very earliest and to some degree, we’re still not quite there.
For me personally, last season was amazing and difficult in equal measure. I had a recurrence of an old shoulder niggle which resulted in me needing what seemed initially to be a simple operation with an estimated recovery time of 6 weeks. But then with the surgeon inside my shoulder (and I was awake on his table under a nerve block at this point, horriffic!), I remember him saying, this isn’t what we thought.
It took me 12 weeks to come back to full-fitness from the surgery. Although it wasn’t complicated and it’s a regular alteration that many rugby players need, the doubling of my recovery time was so disappointing. I felt I’d made a really positive start to the season, and didn’t have much of an opportunity to get game time in my preferred position of hooker. This meant that during the play-offs I spent more time on the bench than I would have liked, but I couldn’t be happier that we won the league. Our squad of players has worked so hard throughout the season to be the best team in the championship, and we deserve the reward!
To speak on behalf of the club is difficult, but the uniting factor in London Welsh is that everyone is firstly proud of what we’ve achieved, but secondly (and perhaps more importantly) focused on keeping that momentum into our first season in the Premiership and over the years to come.
Gavin Henson will be a great addition to the side, and has worked under Lyn before. Lyn knows him well and how to get the best out of him, and he should make a real impact in the centres.
As a squad, whether it’s new boys coming in or the established guys from last season, we are more determined than ever to succeed. I can see it in the boys eyes, and we can’t wait to step out against the Tigers on the first day of the season.
Greg Bateman will be writing a regular column on The Rugby Blog, giving us the inside track on the debut Premiership season at London Welsh.