Old Elthami­ans tar­get­ing top-flight says boss Lach

The Rugby Paper - - News - ■ By NEALE HAR­VEY

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.”

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