DEVONPORT Services have already started their preparations for life in South West One.
The club secured promotion to level six by beating Chew Valley away in the Western Counties play-off on Saturday.
They can now look forward to playing the likes of Launceston, Okehampton, Teignmouth and Cullompton next season.
In recent years Services have seen many of their best players move on the likes of Newton Abbot, Brixham and Launceston, but now it is likely some of their old boys might be keen to return.
One, Chris McDonald, has already agreed to move back to the Rectory from Launceston, while at least one other has also indicated he will also re-sign for Devonport.
Head coach Mike Lewis knows they are going to need a strong and committed squad to compete at the higher level.
“We are not actively going out pouching players or anything like that, but we have been approached by a number of players,” admitted head coach Mike Lewis.
“And we do have to make sure we have two competitive squads.
“We have got a number of players going to sea this year.
“Richard Goffin’s off at sea from September to December, while Eddie McGinley is at sea for five months and Callum Perkins is also going in the navy so he won’t be around next season.
“We used 50-odd players in our first team this season which is unheard of. I don’t know if that is going to get better next season and players will commit that bit more, but again they are still amateur players and they have to put their families first.”
A number of Devon’s top clubs do offer attractive match fees, which is something Services cannot do.
“We realise what we are competing against,” said Lewis. “We just have to offer the great experience, the great club. The facilities we have to offer also helps.
“We can’t pay players, but the club will support them. We look after our players the best we can without actually paying them. However, every player still has to pay their membership every month.
“But, hopefully, we will attract a few players in certain positions.
“We have signed Chris McDonald from Launceston, our old second-row, but again he’s at sea quite a lot this year. But he’s a second-row, which we have been short of this year.”
Services have also already been busy planning their pre-season.
“We have got two of our three pre-season fixtures already confirmed,” said Lewis. “On the Bank Holiday weekend (August 25/26) we will play Saltash away. Traditionally we play them and alternate it home and away. However, if we hadn’t got promoted we probably wouldn’t have played them as they would have been in our league.
“Also the Friday before that (August 17) we are going to be play Exmouth at home.
“We’ll also have a 10s festival on the last Friday in July with Tavistock and Plymstock. That’s good to get a bit of game fitness and contact under the belt.”
Services will also play a game on the weekend of August 10/11. They were initially going to play Brixham on the Friday night, but the south Devon club have now arranged a game for the Saturday. However, Avonmouth Old Boys have indicated that they might be interested in playing in Plymouth.
Services, meanwhile, will start running rugby fit sessions on a Wednesday for male and females from May 23. They are for all ages and abilities. Anyone interested should email firstname.lastname@example.org.