Old Elthamians targeting top-flight says boss Lach
OLD Elthamians have set their sights on capturing the hearts and minds of rugby fans in Kent after rugby director Gavin Lach revealed ambitious plans for a £4m ground redevelopment that will underpin a full-time future in the Championship.
The newly-promoted National One outfit are set to agree planning permission with Bromley council for a new 4G pitch, 500-seat grandstand and clubhouse improvements at their Eltham College ground ahead of their first level three campaign.
Having climbed four divisions in seven years, Lach vows Old Es will not stand still – with bringing Premiership rugby to Kent a longerterm possibility Lach, below, told The Rugby Paper: “What we’ve achieved is unbelievable and everything’s coming together for us at the right time. The Championship is on our radar and we’d eventually like to go full-time, so this promotion means we’re one step nearer. “We’re two to three weeks away from getting the OK from the council for our ground developments and there’s a huge opportunity within the county of Kent because the two nearest professional sides right now are Saracens and Harlequins.
“If Kent had a professional side playing good, attractive rugby I think the fanbase would be unbelievable. No one’s done it before so it’s there to be done and if we can make a decent fist of National One, why shouldn’t it be us?”
Lach added: “We’ve got 60 acres at Eltham College, so could you imagine a Premiership club there? It would be superb, but that is a long way down the road. Our first priority is to do well in National One and be the strongest side in Kent.”
While Lach’s bold plan may seem fanciful, Kent has long been identified as an untapped stronghold where Premiership rugby could thrive.
Lach added: “Kent’s huge and there are so many players who end up leaving the county when we’ve got Eltham College, Sevenoaks School, Tunbridge School, Kings Canterbury, Rochester, Medway, Dulwich and Whitgift on our doorstep.
“Harlequins and Saracens nick those players but we’re going to have a superb set-up that may help reverse the exodus from our county.”