Walsham Season Review and Future Preview – The Rugby Paper

03/19/20240
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North Walsham have endured a tumultuous campaign at the foot of the table, having secured their first victory of the season only last weekend. Vikings head coach Niall Lear has not been surprised by their struggles pointing out that 25 players left the club at the end of last season. The vast majority of the squad that secured the promotion to the National leagues in 2022 have either retired or found pastures new, meaning that Lear’s side were always going to be up against it this season North Walsham avoided relegation by three points back in 2022/2023 but will be back in London & SE Premier next season.

However, the now youthful Norfolk side enjoyed a day in the sun last weekend as they beat Henley Hawks 35-26 to pick up a maiden victory and lean says sometimes you need to take one step back in order to take two steps forward. Lear told The rugby paper  ‘it was great, probably a long time coming, if we’re being honest. It was a really good day in general at the club- we had all three teams at home, 1s, 2s and 3s and we got three wins, which has happened very often. ‘From a coaching point of view we’d seen it coming for a good while but the players hadn’t quite been able to execute as we’d hoped. It was just really nice for them to get something tangible from the season which has been really tough so far. ‘ Overall, as a club we lost last season 25-plus players who played for the first XV the year before. For any club that’s going to have a huge impact. ‘The reality of it is, it has pushed us to look at that next cycle of how we upscale the players that we’ve got to be competitive in National League rugby. It’s been a work in progress, slowly but surely.’

Failing to win in 20 consecutive games, with their last victory before the Henley triumph back in April 2023, takes a toll on any squad, but Lear is impressed with how his side as a while have stuck at their difficult task at hand. He added ‘There’s a lot of youngsters that are putting their hands up. We’ve got a scrum half Connor Dudley  who has played pretty much every game for us. He’s been really positive. We’ve got a second row/ back row Billy Tait, both of them are in their early 20s and they’ve consistently put their hands up every single week in what has been a really difficult year. ‘Post Christmas we picked up a hooker from Bury St Edmunds, Ewan Kingdom. He’s been outstanding since he’s joined us. ‘but it would be harsh to say there’s been a couple of players who are shining lights the entire time, because it’s very much been a squad effort this year. In previous years, I know the club has relied on a couple of outstanding players or athletes, whereas this year it’s been a 20-man shift every single week’

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At North Walsham Rugby Club, our 1st XV (Vikings) are playing at National 2 level. Mini and Youth Rugby caters for Under 6s to U18s. Three Senior Men’s teams. Senior Women’s in affiliation with UEA ladies rugby. Four Girls teams Under12s, 14s, 16s and 18s.

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