By NEALE HARVEY
as published in The Rugby Paper
Blackheath rugby director Colin Ridgway reckons high-flying ‘Club’ have no reason to fear promotion to the Championship.
Club are battling Richmond and Hartpury at the top of the National One, prompting thoughts of a return to tier two – a level Blackheath last competed at in 1999.
Ridgway concedes promotion would be challenging, but told TRP: “For any club the transition would be difficult, but we’re fortunate to have a very forward thinking chairman in Russell Ticehurst who’s been working hard over the last three years to build Blackheath’s infrastructure with a long-term strategy in place.
“Are we Championship ready now? Probably not. Have we got the infrastructure in place so that we could be ready. Yes
“There are good teams up in the Championship and sides need to think about what they want to achieve – whether they want to just be cannon fodder or go up and make a statement – but we’re in a good position.”
Ridgway, a former hooker who, save for a short spell at Harlequins as Keith Wood’s understudy between 1999 and 2001, has been at Blackheath since 1993, believes consistency has been key to Club’s campaign to date.
“I’m not surprised where we are because consistency has been our watchword and we’ve achieved that so far,” he said.
“It’s a bit of a fool’s gold to look too far into the future and we’ll continue taking it week-by-week, but our stats are good, our defence is strong and the only thing I can fault is we’ve gifted away a few attacking bonus points.
“But that’s splitting hairs because, touch wood, we haven’t been outclassed and have edged some very tight games.”
Promotion or not, Ridgway insists team spirit will come first, adding: “There are clubs in National One with significantly bigger budgets than Blackheath but, for whatever reason, they haven’t got their formula right.
“What I’m determined to do, first and foremost, is that we remain a club that’s not driven by prima-donnas or signs people who are just here for the money. We win games because we have a collective spirit.”