PLYMOUTH Argaum’s new head coach Brett Stroud says he is happy with how his first few months have gone at Bickleigh Down – even though he hasn’t had a chance to see his side in action yet.
The former Plymoth Albion flanker took over the reins at the Devon One club earlier in the summer.
Argaum have experienced a few tough seasons, losing key players, dropping out of the Cornwall/Devon League and finishing ninth in Devon One last term.
But Stroud appears to have brought some positivity back to the Roborough-based club – and plenty of new faces.
So far he has added 14 new players and more are set to follow.
“I am happy, as it is going well,” said Stroud. “The boys are training hard Tuesday and Thursday nights and are buying into the systems I want us to play this season. They are a good bunch of lads.
“We started off with small numbers but now we are up to the 30-player mark, with more players hopefully coming in – I have a few more in the pipeline.
“Some players I have spoken to have said they will commit to the season but are waiting for a start date as they have work and other commitments. So we probably won’t know the full squad until December time.”
Stroud is enjoying the challenge of trying to turn around Argaum’s fortunes and also really getting his teeth stuck into coaching.
“I do enjoy the coaching,” he said. “I have worked with some good coaches and you can take a bit from every coach, but then you go your own way.” He added: “I know the way I want these boys to play and I think it will work within this league. I am excited to see what this group of players can do.
“I think by the time our first game comes along, squad wise we will be pretty strong.”
However, there is still no date to when league rugby will return. The RFU have said it will not be until January at the earliest.
“That is a bit of a blow as you have to try and keep the boys enthusiastic in training,” said Stroud.
“It is hard to get ready for the season if it keeps getting put back.
“I am trying to make sure the lads are hungry for it, but you really need that date for that first game.”
So far Argaum’s new additions include Dean Allison, Brad Coles, Mitch Coles, Rasih Hitchins, Adi Hitchins, Harrison Truswell, Joshua Tart, Marshall Coade, Isaac Honey, Toby Stubbs, Joe Kemsley, Jason Morgan and Wayne Gillen, with Dan James also returning after a spell out of the game.
Rasih and Adi Hitchins are following in a family tradition by joining Argaum. They are the fifth generation of the Hitchins family to be involved with the historic club.
Their great grandfather Tom Hichins was key to the club setting up base at Roborough, including helping to build the clubhouse, and their grandfather, Bill, became club president last year.
Stroud, meanwhile, has appointed Dan Smith as club captain again for the 2020-21 season, with Will Lloyd named social secretary.
“I have been club captain for a few years up here now but with a new coach and new boys coming in it’s quite nice to be appointed again,” said Smith, who has been at Argaum since under-12 level.
“Brett has come in and there seems to be a bit of stability with the numbers at training each week. The buzz around the club has also got a lot better.”
Smith added: “There’s been up and downs the last few years with coaches. We haven’t really had one for more than a couple of years but Brett seems to have come in and given the boys a buzz. People are turning up and the standard of training is a lot better.
“We are not going to be playing competitively until after the new year, but we just have to keep building as we are and hopefully by the time the new year comes around we can hit the ground running.”
Lloyd, who has been at the club four-and-a-half years, added: “The boys are buzzing to get going. It is kind of a shame it has been confirmed that it won’t start until before January.
“We were hoping it would start this year, but it is more time to work on our game plan, our fitness and bond as a group as there are a lot of new players up here.”