UPTON have made five changes to their squad as they prepare to return to pre-season training ahead of the new Midlands Three West (South) campaign.
After gaining promotion last season, the club return to the field next Tuesday for training, and they will be looking to build a squad capable of sustaining their position in the higher level.
Veteran Chris O’Neil has announced his retirement after 20 years of first-team rugby and first-choice prop Charlie Abbey has been forced to hang up his boots, after rupturing his Achilles tendon in the final game of last season.
But the club have welcomed back second row Chris Thomas from New Zealand, as well as front row Ed Haynes and forward Lorcan Lynch, who will commute from London to play for their home-town club again.
Head coach Oli Banwell said: “We’re a young squad and due to Chris O’Neil retiring, we’ve been left with very few experienced players, but I’m hopeful of other players returning to the club after playing abroad or being away for a couple of years.
“We want people to come down to training and not be put off by the fear of not being good enough, big enough or fit enough. The first few sessions will be touch rugby to allow everyone to blow the cobwebs off and hopefully we’ll see a few new faces.
“The fact England have just won a 3-0 series in Australia will hopefully encourage people to try rugby for the first time, or return after a long period away from the sport.”
Training sessions will be held at the Sports Field every Tuesday and Thursday from next week before the new season begins in early September.