Fitness and endurance are the testing differences between those who make it and those who don't.
Luck and circumstance also play a part and in that sense Cambridge were never seriously disadvantaged as the season progressed. But we were fitter and stronger than last season, proud to beat Manchester and Blackheath once again at Wests Renault Park and fully deserved our away victories at Henley and Waterloo. We finished 4th in the "home" league table with 11 wins out of 13, but 9th in the "away" table scraping just the 3 wins, at least a bit better year on year. Three of many challenges next season will be first ever wins against Launceston and Stourbridge and victory in Cornwall.
The season began well and ended modestly with a midwinter dip in form as the dark evenings began before games ended. Cambridge were never in contention for promotion, finishing a safe sixth. We were given an April master class by Otley and Manchester on the standards to be set and achieved next season. We learn fast, still continue to improve year on year and at the time of writing, have secured a much stronger national squad of both forwards and backs.
Player coaches, James Shanahan and Glen Remnant, once again set a high personal standard, each playing every league game. 6 other players managed over 20 games. Chris/Bomber Lombaard crossed the line with 21 tries for the third successive season, this time to go top of the National League 2 try scoring table. Stefan Liebenberg and Paul Kendall, in their first season, moved into the top 12 scorers in the league with over 20 tries between them. But behind the statistics, a number of young players improved progressively playing at this rarefied level. Tom Powell, Tom Laws, Adam Barnard and Luke Fielden are ahead of many others with outstanding performances, making the transition into the senior game. Our links with such as West Suffolk College now provide a secure progress ladder upon which such talent depends.
The league is everything, the cup competitions bizarre and at best an opportunity to experiment. The RFU must now urgently finalise league structure and funding provision for the 2009/2010 season. Significant promotion prospects for at least two teams together with larger leagues of 16, are the competitive components that attract players to give the essential time and spectators to watch games as a regular habit. We now attract gates of over 500, lunches of 250 and will aim to double that over the next two seasons. That we lack the critical detail of the key target, promotion places, at this late stage, needs to be recorded formally.
Off the field our sponsors multiply and our commercial intentions firm up, in establishing the best conference venue in Eastern England. Our idyllic ground set in sight of Grantchester Meadows has the necessary planning approvals and capacity to progress far both in semi-professional and community rugby union football. CRUFC are alive, active and ambitious from a thriving mini and youth group, heading into its 40th year, to the most senior and only national side in Eastern Counties. We aim to continue to lead in our sport, by good example, and build a sound independent financial base for the future.