DEVONPORT High School Old Boys are hoping to avoid a battle for Devon’s wooden spoon in 2015/16.
The Stonehouse Creek-based side have finished second-from-bottom in Devon Two for the past three seasons.
Only local rivals Plympton Victoria have kept them off the foot of the table, although it was a close run thing last season.
DHSOB only won two league matches in 2014/15 and were beaten away by Plym Vic.
However, despite their struggles the Old Boys have remained fully committed to their fixtures and they were recently rewarded for their efforts by the Devon RFU by winning the county award for endeavour, sponsored by Tribute.
“We honoured all our fixtures last season,” said director of rugby Mike Freeman.
“Three games we travelled light, but, fair play, we still honoured the fixtures.
“We really struggled with availabilities last season. I think we used 55 players. Sometimes we would have more unavailable than available.
“Devon RFU did recognise us for the fact that despite adversity we did fulfil all our fixtures.”
But Freeman, who is on the Devon and Plymouth Combination committees, hopes the new campaign can bring a change of fortune.
He is planning on resuming a more hands on role with coaching the first team this season after delegating in recent years.
“We want to finish out of the bottom two and maybe target one of the minor cups,” said Freeman.
“But every game is tough, even in Devon Two.”
The one real positive for DHSOB is their youth set up – the Stonehouse Sharks.
Although they know their best youngsters will probably move on to bigger and better things they do hope to keep some of them and try and emulate what Plymouth Argaum have achieved in turning a struggling side into a winning one.
“We have got a very strong youth set up,” said Freeman. “There are some very promising players there.
“Argaum have had success by managing to keep nine of 10 young boys together and so have Plymstock Albion oaks.
“It would be good to try and hang on to some of the youngsters.”
Freeman has told prospective first team players that he is looking for three Cs this year – commitment, consistency and character.
“If you have consistency and commitment you have half a chance,” said Freeman. “And then if you add character then you have even more chance of success. And success breeds success.
“We won the Lockie Cup and Ellis Trophy on the same night a few years ago, but then our Fijians went to Afghanistan and some of our students graduated and then we started to struggle. We fell into Devon Two and we have not been able to get out of there.
“Once you get a losing culture then players drift away.”
Freeman is hoping the Old Boys can end that cycle and become known for winning rather than for endeavour in adversity.
They are back in training and would welcome any new players. This year they will have use of the 3G pitch at Devonport High School for Boys to train on.
During the summer training is taking place at Stonehouse Creek on Monday and Thursday evenings between 6.30pm and 8.30pm. Anyone is welcome to join them.
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