NEW Chippenham rugby head coach Dan Jeffries says his squad is well capable of achieving promotion when the new season starts but says he is focusing on making the club more self-sustainable first.

Chippenham began their return to play with a couple of healthy victories over Cirencester (31-6) and Coombe Down (45-24) recently, but Jeffries – who has been in his role for around a year without being able to take a single session due to Covid – has his eyes fixed on moulding the culture of the club before anything else.

The new boss has had to contend with a large influx of eager players too, therefore blending a new squad together is one of many tasks he will have to consider.

Once the seven-game friendly season has ended on May 22, Jeffries said his team will have June off before coming back in July in order to adequately prepare for the new South West One campaign.

He said: “There’s a league restructuring planned for next year which will mean more teams than usual will be promoted.

“The club is really clear on its goals, and they are to develop a more effective player and coach pathway. To develop a structure within the club that is really sustainable – it’s a similar model to the one I worked with at Trowbridge in terms of growing the club from within.

“Over the last 10 or 15 years, Chippenham has gone up quite regularly, but also come straight back down quite regularly.”

The upcoming block of friendlies is being organised against local teams, with only one side – Marlborough – in South West One alongside Chippenham.

Jeffries admitted next season will be something of an unknown quantity as he aims for a second promotion from this level.

He said: “The board isn’t looking for early promotion, however, it was made evident to me on arrival that this is a squad who could easily finish at the top end of South West One.

“I’ve been promoted from this level before with Salisbury, and this squad is strong. I can see why Chippenham didn’t lose a game at home during the last full season, but they lost a lot on the road.

“So developing that and changing that culture will be a priority. But job one will be making sure we’ve got all the practices and systems in place so that when we go up next time, we stay there.”