Rosslyn Park coach Alex Codling has admitted that promotion out of National League One will be a tall order without the club going full time.
Despite ending the season with an eight-try 52-17 win over Cinderford at Priory Lane last weekend, part-timers Park missed out on top spot and escalation to the Championship by just three points behind full-time outfit Doncaster Knights.
Such is the cruel nature of the division with just one promotion spot up for grabs, Park ended the season with nothing, despite finishing 24 points ahead of Coventry in third.
Codling’s emotions are a mix of disappointment at missing out and of pride for getting so close – but also reality at the scale of the task facing part-time sides in the division.
He said: “Will we ever win promotion without going full-time? That is the million dollar question.
“Only the board can decide the club’s future in those terms. All we can do is try to improve week in, week out and season in, season out, and be up there again next time around.”
“There is no doubt this season in National One has been the toughest yet, and that the gap between us and the Championship above, as well as National Two below, is widening.
“Doncaster came down to our division last year, and they dominated all but us.
“Last year’s National One champions, Ealing, are coming back down, and the three teams that came up are all going back down – that says it all.”
He added: “Doncaster are the one full-time team in the league and for us to push them all the way to the end is fantastic and the boys deserve a tremendous credit, so we cannot be disappointed.
“It was still an amazing season for the club, it is the best the club has ever done so there is certainly no negativity about missing out on promotion or what we should have or could have done. That is life at the end of the day.”
He added: “It was in our hands until we lost at home to Blackheath, then we could only do our thing, we could not control what others did.
“We won all nine games after Blackheath and we took 14 points off the top three at that time, so there was not much else we could do.”