After a lengthy wait and a bit of a fight, Hastings & Bexhill will be changing counties next season.
The rugby club’s switch from Sussex One to Kent One has been confirmed following the release of the fixtures for the 2011/12 campaign.
During H&B’s three seasons in London Three South East, the Sussex RFU took the decision to allow non-first XVs to play in Sussex One in the hope of increasing the strength in depth of the division.
H&B have always opposed the decision and as last term unfolded, their concerns became reality with a degree of imbalance created by some inconsistent team selection, particularly on the part of Worthing III.
Since January the club has engaged in discussions with Sussex RFU and Kent RFU about the possibility of crossing borders. With the committee and club members in agreement, the London League has now given it the green light.
Kent One is made up exclusively of first XVs and is generally regarded as a much stronger division than Sussex One. The division has a total of 13 teams as opposed to the 11 in Sussex One.
H&B will begin their programme away to HSBC on September 3 and will finish against the same opponents, who came third-bottom last term, on April 21. Their first home game is against Beccehamian on September 17.
Paul Sandeman will take over from Roger Roberts as captain and there is a new coach in Kevin Smith, but the squad is likely to remain fairly similar. Pre-season training will start on Thursday July 7 at the club from 7.15pm.
Despite the move to Kent One, H&B will remain a Sussex club and the front side will play in the Sussex Shield. The full article will appear in Friday’s Observers.