WHAT started as another tilt at promotion ended in relegation as Sudbury, who ran top-half Ipswich to the wire on Saturday, endured an agonising wait for other results to confirm their miserable fate.
But consigned to London 3NE next season, only on points difference from Beccles and Old Streetonians after their rare wins, was “cruel luck” forged off the back of relegation form throughout the winter months.
That is the candid view of departing player-coach Mark Bolton, who firmly believed after thrashing Ipswich in September he was in for a vintage last year, before retiring from the sport, which saw him play professionally for Orrell and Swinton Lions, taking in both codes.
And Bolton, who blames having to use 47 different players, claiming he was never able to pick the same team due to injuries and other commitments, has a warning things will not be anywhere near as comfy at the lower level, while club chairman Mike Beckett has said they will not put promotion over good rugby.
“It is a very forward-orientated division,” said Bolton of London 3NE. “You need to be big and strong and some of the pitches and facilities are not anything like Sudbury’s. It is going to be completely different and a wake-up call to other nice grounds, but I think they can do well next year.”
After a win at home to relegation rivals Beccles in their last home game, Suds went to fifth-placed Ipswich with real belief, knowing a draw would likely be enough to survive the drop.
But their eighth loss in their last 10 matches, 30-23, with Suds desperately trying to run over a try to draw level after being camped deep in to the Ipswich half in the final minutes, coupled with wins for Beccles and Old Streetonians, saw an end to their three seasons in London 2NE.
Bolton, who joined the club when Suds had been lingering in London 3NE for a number of years, said: “We really put up a good fight against a good Ipswich side, but we were not relegated on our last five or six performances. Looking back, the damage was done in November until January where we were being forced into picking players who had not played for us.”
Chairman Beckett said they need to learn the lessons from their demotion.
“It is highly disappointing, next year we have to regroup, look at ourselves very critically at what went wrong and have nothing else on our minds but bouncing back straight away.”
But he warned promotion would not be put over the style of rugby and community ethos he hopes can achieve long-term success.
“Sudbury Rugby Club will not be promotion hungry at the expense of good rugby, I want to go up through player development rather than player accumulation.”
n THREE of Sudbury’s next generation starred in Eastern Counties representative sides on Sunday.
Frazer Beckett scored a try for the under-17s as they beat Middlessex 33-31 at Cambridge and brother Austin Beckett scored two tries and Bobby Rice also played in the under-15s’ 19-12 win over Essex at Shelford.