OTLIENSIANS Rugby Club will make their long-awaited return to pre-season this week, accompanied with some promising news.

The Otley based club have announced Wayne Radford will take charge of the side, going into the new campaign.

It comes as a boost for the Ensians, with the search for a new coach taking place for a lengthy spell of time.

Radford has been involved with many rugby clubs over the years and propped in Northern Division One in his early days.

After his playing career finished, he went on to coach at Dinnington, Sheffield Medics and Sheffield Oaks, and now arrives in Otley with a wealth of experience.

And discussing his reasons for joining he club, he said: “I think it was a meeting of minds and it was also the time for me, and for the club.

“I see potential with the team. They have an ambitious young squad, who want to achieve more, so I’d love to be involved in the project.

“There’s also a sustainability to the way they run things, which I really like.”

Otliensians returned to pre-season training on Tuesday, and the club are sending a strong message out, which states ‘anyone is welcome’.

Weekly sessions take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and commence at 7:00 PM, Chaffers Field, Pool Rd, Otley.

And the club’s press officer Ben Ritson, spoke of his delight with the club returning.

He said: “I can’t wait for the lads to get back and playing, and with the addition of a new coach, it’s an exciting time for the club.

“We actually held a 7’s event a few weeks ago, and it was absolutely rammed.

“The boys are desperate to get going, and we are looking forward to welcoming spectators back for the pre-season friendly matches.

“It has been a tough time for many people during lockdown, and for the lads to return, it will be a great boost for their physical and mental health.

“Rugby is a great way to release tension and any sort of bad feelings, because of the physical nature of the sport.

“We are raring to go and extremely looking forward to welcoming them and the fans back.

“Hopefully, we see some good numbers and new faces down at training this week.”

Ritson added: “For the fans, I think it has been really cruel, especially for the older generation of fans that come down to watch us.

“We are one of those clubs where the fans stay loyal for generations, because a lot of the people who come down, follow on from their family members who’ve been to watch over the years.

“So, being in lockdown will have been tough for them. They’ve missed 18 months of socialising.

“Having the community feel around the club, is just as important as the team really.”

In line with the club’s return, Otliensians will arrange some friendlies for August, however, as of yet, the dates and fixtures haven’t been confirmed.

For more information on the club’s training sessions, contact Peter Tempest on 07973 535944.