Keswick have a new coach for the 2021/22 season in Frank Hewett-Smith who moved up from assistant after Richard Metcalf stood aside.
Frank is delighted that the opening game of the new season in North 2 West is against Cockermouth at Davidson Park tomorrow.
“First and foremost it will be great to be back out there playing competitive rugby after all this time. Cockermouth is a great club and although it will be a strongly contested local derby I know it will be played in the right spirit.
“I’m especially looking forward to it as I know a lot of the Cockermouth players having coached them when they were younger,” he says.
A former St. Bees School student, who played briefly for Wigton before joining Gosforth, had his own career ended by injury.
It was when his son showed an interest in playing at under-8s level that he took up coaching and it’s a path that saw him initially coach at Cockermouth and has led to him being head coach at Lancaster University.
The move to Keswick came through his son (now doing a masters course at university) not having a team to play for at under-16s level.
“He had played at Cockermouth up to that point but they didn’t have enough to step up so as he didn’t want to miss a year’s rugby he joined Keswick and that’s how I got here.
“Since then I’ve worked with Richard on youth development and was then his assistant with the Keswick first team for four years. I’ve also coached age-group teams with Cumbria.
“After working alongside Richard I’m really excited at stepping up into the head coach’s role. The aim is to keep pushing this group of talented players to new heights and play a brand of rugby that puts smiles on their faces and the crowd.”
Keswick’s rise from the Cumbria League under the Metcalf/Hewett-Smith partnership has been eye-catching but nobody denies it’s going to be tough.
The new head coach said: “The big thing is that we are putting out two teams this weekend and I know some clubs in the county are unable to do that yet. Our seconds are at Cockermouth on Friday night.
“Clubs have been concerned that with so long without rugby the players would have found other things to do on a Saturday. It was quiet when we first started training but has really picked up in the last six weeks with even some new, young players joining the club.
“One thing I have found is that we can expect a glut of weddings with so many having been postponed during COVID lockdowns and restrictions.”
James Benson has been appointed as first-team captain with George Holme as vice-captain while Steve Holloway will skipper the 2nd XV with Martin Relph as team manager.
Benson new said: “I’m super happy and honoured to be the new 1st team captain. We have a fantastic group of lads who are strong, committed and keen to succeed.
“After having so much time away from rugby, myself and the team can’t wait to get back on the pitch, and see all of our supporters. Bring on the upcoming season.”