THE build-up to the new rugby union season begins in earnest tonight for Fylde RFC.
Their first match in National League One does not take place until August 27, when Jersey make a groundbreaking visit to the Woodlands, but training commences tonight.
Fylde’s close-season signings include Gareth Rawlings, Steven Depledge, Chris Briers and Evan Stewart.
Jason Robinson has retired and Josh Beaumont has linked up with Newcastle Falcons, though he will start pre-season with Fylde and, like last season, he is expected to be play when his Durham University commitments allow.
One player expected to miss the start of training is Stephen Briers, brother of new arrival Chris, who is still hampered by a hamstring problem that affected him at the end of last season.
Fylde coach Mark Nelson said: “Briers has been training with Liverpool St Helens and doing some touch rugby. The hamstring is still not 100 per cent, so it is something we are monitoring.”
Lock Alistair Atkinson will not be returning to Fylde, though the club did have the option of taking him back from Sedgley Park. The second rower has instead linked up with Preston Grasshoppers.
Fylde are hoping for confirmation within days that free-scoring winger Nick Royle will be staying with Fylde.
He is centrally contracted by Twickenham as a full-time England Sevens player, with the understanding that he plays his non-international competitive rugby for Fylde.
Fylde and Royle are waiting for confirmation that his central contract is to be extended with the same arrangement.
The Ansdell club hopes to arrange a pre-season warm-up match, possibly against a Premiership club, in early August.
One-time Fylde target Alex Davies has linked up with London Welsh following his departure from Plymouth Albion.
The fly-half had been courted by Fylde but the lure of Championship rugby proved too strong.
Nelson said: “London Welsh are a top four Championship club and we can have no complaints about Alex wanting to play at that level.”
Davies played for London Welsh in the 86th Middlesex Sevens, in which the Samurai team hammered Esher 55-12 in the Twickenham final.
Fylde’s Josh Beaumont, Harrison Collins and Dan Bibby also took part.