Fylde RFC ready to take next step after season of progress

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​​League runners-up Fylde RFC can look back on their season as a major “step forward” and are already planning to go a step further in 2023/24, says team boss Chris Briers.
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Chester 25 Fylde RFC 40: Fylde forced to battle for victory

Fylde’s 2022/23 campaign ended a week earlier than expected after tomorrow’s ‘dead rubber’ of a final fixture at Huddersfield was scrapped following an agreement between both clubs and the National League.

The fixture was meaningless for Fylde, who were secure in second place in National Two North, 12 points behind champions Sedgley Park and 11 clear of Hull Ionians in third.

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Chris Briers (right) and fellow Fylde team boss Alex Loney can reflect on a satisfying season Picture: CHRIS FARROW / FYLDE RFCChris Briers (right) and fellow Fylde team boss Alex Loney can reflect on a satisfying season Picture: CHRIS FARROW / FYLDE RFC
Chris Briers (right) and fellow Fylde team boss Alex Loney can reflect on a satisfying season Picture: CHRIS FARROW / FYLDE RFC

It means the 40-25 victory at Chester last Saturday brought the curtain down on a satisfying campaign for the Woodlands club.

They won 21 of their 25 games, also drawing one for a total of 106 points – only two fewer than they achieved from 30 matches last season.

Joint-head coach Briers said of the Chester game: “It was a great win and we played some really exciting stuff at times. When we created opportunities, we were there in numbers to finish them.

“We’re very pleased with the step forward this season. We’ve grown and matured as a squad.

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“We’ve had more issues with injuries and unavailability, particularly in the second half of the season, but we’ve shown our strength in depth.:

Briers backed the decision not to go ahead with the rearranged Huddersfield game, which was frozen off last month, adding: “Huddersfield approached us and asked if there was any chance of cancelling the game as there was nothing on the line.

“Although in our hearts we were keen to play, we used our heads after such a tough season. We have been fighting injuries and had a couple more knocks at the weekend.

“Had the call from Huddersfield come earlier, we might have done things differently at Chester but we’d definitely have gone out to win that game.

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“We always want to give players opportunities but never at the risk of losing a game.”

Fylde’s 106 points may well have won them promotion in other seasons but they came up against an exceptional Sedgley side, who tasted defeat only once.

Briers said: “You have to accept whatever the league throws at you. We can look back at the games where we slipped up and say we shouldn’t have, but you can’t spend your time asking ‘What if?'”

Instead Fylde are looking forward and have every reason to be confident about their prospects for 2023/24.

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“Most of the lads are signed up for the next season and the majority of the squad will be the same,” added Briers.

“If we lose anyone it will be through personal circumstances, such as work commitments outside the area, but we have a group who want to play. The mindset is to try to go one step further and that’s the message coming from the players.”

Despite the league season being cut from 30 games to 26 for the first time, almost half of the clubs in National Two North failed to complete their programme by last Saturday as planned.

Briers said of the restructure: “We’re not sure about the early break (in October) and that may have had an impact, though you wouldn’t expect to have a game frozen off (at Huddersfield) well into March.

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“There were plenty of rest weekends but that helped us because we picked up a lot of injuries in the second half of the season.

“In the past, we’ve seen players having to play for their clubs on county championship days in May, which wasn’t good.”