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Canterbury Rugby Club chairman Giles Hilton expects several signings ahead of National League 1 debut

Canterbury Rugby Club chairman Giles Hilton has promised the club will do everything in their power to make sure the players are equipped for National League 1 next season.

Canterbury will play in rugby’s third tier for the first time in their history after beating Chester 19-10 in the promotion play-off earlier this month.

The National 2 South runners-up will now join Kent rivals Old Elthamians and Blackheath in a division which also includes Rosslyn Park, Birmingham Moseley, Plymouth Albion, Rotherham, Darlington and Sale FC.

Canterbury chairman Giles Hilton celebrates the Chester win with scrum-half Dan Smart Picture: Kent Sports Images
Canterbury chairman Giles Hilton celebrates the Chester win with scrum-half Dan Smart Picture: Kent Sports Images

Mr Hilton acknowledges there will be clubs with bigger budgets than Canterbury but says they will not use that as an excuse for being under prepared.

He said: “Financially we’re okay, we’ve got people stepping up to the plate. The financial side doesn’t worry me it’s making sure the boys get what they deserve.

“The players have got themselves there, they deserve to play National League rugby and we need to put in place whatever we need to put in place.

“The coaching team have done a lot of work to make sure we’ve got the processes right and we owe it to them to make sure we do everything we can to prepare them for playing in League 1.”

Mr Hilton said talks are already well advanced with a couple of potential signings but he doesn’t expect wholesale changes to the squad at the Marine Travel Ground.

The only doubts are over Sam Kenny and Dan Smart, both of whom are due to graduate from university and may find work elsewhere.

Canterbury chairman Giles Hilton and head of rugby Andy Pratt Picture: Phillipa Hilton
Canterbury chairman Giles Hilton and head of rugby Andy Pratt Picture: Phillipa Hilton

Mr Hilton added: “Plans are in place, we’ve got a couple of players lined up and I suspect there were a few hanging on to see how we got on in the play-off.

“I would have thought (we’ll add) no more than another three or four but that’s across the squad of 1sts and 2nds of 36 players, so to be only be adding 20 per cent is very minimal compared to some clubs that have end of season clear-outs every year and start all over again.

“Rightly people (players) will have been holding back from wanting to talk to us but we expect them to talk to us now.

“The key for me is that we mustn’t get sucked into trying to play something we’re not or try to be something we’re not.

“We will remain as Canterbury Rugby Club who happen to be in National League 1.”

Read more: All the latest sports news in Kent

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