THORNTON Cleveleys RUFC are bidding to build on the success of last season, when their runaway title win heralded a return to the Rugby Football Union league structure.
Thornton will play at North Lancashire Two level in the coming campaign and club officials insist they have no intention of standing still after making so much progress.
They will be fielding three teams in 2012-13, having introduced a third XV, Thornton Exiles.
Coach Paul Moran said: “We have registered 90 players with the RFU and should be able to top the 100 mark when pre-season training starts in earnest.
“We have had former Sale Sharks prop Martin Halsall attending a couple of sessions as he is a very good friend of our new captain, Chris Branningan, who has been an instrumental part of this year’s recruitment. Chris brings a great deal to an already talented team.”
Moran also paid tribute to last season’s captain Dale Beardsall for his important rebuilding work, and to committee chairman Adam Lloyd for all his support.
Moran added: “I was brought in to coach at the start of last season, after leaving the Fylde RFC academy.
“I wanted to get my teeth into coaching senior rugby and Thornton gave me the opportunity.”
His busy schedule in the build-up to next season includes a development game against Bolton RUFC and also an elite training weekend.
Some credit for Thornton’s success is being given to the O2 Touch scheme, designed to help clubs attract members over the summer months. The decision to start an O2 Touch programme proved an instant success at Thornton Cleveleys, where numbers have continued to swell.
Moran said: “O2 Touch has been a highly successful summer project yet again. We’ve had around 60 or 70 players down in the past five weeks, from Rossall School, Fleetwood RU, Sedgley Park RU, Manchester RU, Blackpool & the Fylde Nautical College and of course Thornton RU. We even had a couple of lads from Cornish Pirates guesting.
“This has enabled us once again to grow as a club, with another ten players joining the ranks, and the Exiles being launched.
“Now I’m looking forward to working with an even bigger group of lads and trying to maintain the momentum we’ve generated.”
*Blackpool RUFC welcome new and old players to training each Tuesday and Thursday.
The sessions start at 7.30pm at the club on Fleetwood Road, Bispham, and further information is available from Mike Routliff (07939 188314) or Russell Woodward (07717 314634).