CHIPPENHAM director of rugby John Brown admits his side are in a better place than they were 12 months ago despite an ‘indifferent’ summer at the club.

This time last year, Chippenham were adapting to their relegation from the, then named, National League Three South, as well as the sudden departure of head coach Andi Kyriacou, who left for Sale Sharks.

While preparations for their upcoming South West One East campaign have not gone smoothly, Brown is hopeful that they can kick off the 25th anniversary of playing at Allington Fields in the right manner when they host Stratford-upon-Avon on Saturday.

“The summer hasn’t been perfect but the reality is that it is most definitely a better place than where we were last year,” he said.

“It’s always difficult to turn the corner from getting beaten week-in-week-out, but I don’t think anybody envisaged that we would have as poor a year as we did last year.

“This year, we are better prepared.

“We have had an increased amount of consistency with Dale Burn doing the senior coaching.

“The buy-in from the players throughout the last 10 or 11 weeks has been fantastic as well.

“We’ve suffered our normal course of pre-season injuries unfortunately but we are confident about the upcoming season.”

Chippenham have also bolstered their squad ahead of the new season, as they look to improve on their ninth-place finish last term.

The likes of centre Jacob Unwin, moving from Corsham, and back-row forward Charlie Palmer from Stothert and Pitt have come in to the squad and Brown hopes that will help them to build towards his ultimate ambition of National League rugby returning to Allington Fields.

“We have had three or four players join us now, which has been a real boost for us,” he added.

“It’s good quality as well. Jacob Unwin brings a wealth of experience on young shoulders.

“He is a big, strong, physical and very talented centre.

“Without a shadow of a doubt, we are a stronger outfit than last year.

“I think we have to be pragmatic and we certainly need to improve on last year.

“We have the infrastructure at the club, I believe, of being capable of playing some form of National League rugby, longer term.”