Ripon RUFC director of rugby Ian Hassall says the club is in a good place following a long period in the doldrums.
After relegation in 2014, Hassall has been looking to breathe new life into the club since taking on the role of director of rugby last summer.
But, after surviving in Yorkshire Two last year, a poor start to the season came this time around before a 53-0 drubbing at the hands of Keighley – their fourth successive loss – brought about a reality check.
They went on to win their next three games, and in some style, before a late try cost them a fourth successive win at in-form Wath upon Dearne on Saturday.
But Hassall says the club is now a happy place to be.
“It’s a nice environment to be involved with at the moment,” he said. “We’ve got a young side and we’re taking forward steps every week and we’re feeling positive about the year ahead.
“At the start of the season I would have been happy to take a losing bonus point from Saturday, but we came away feeling disappointed we hadn’t won which is a measure of how far we’ve come over the last month or so.”
Hassall admits the Keighley result could well be a turning point in the season.
“The loss against Keighley was a bit of a wake up call,” he mused.
“We hadn’t been playing well before that but the feeling after that game was awful, so we decided to address a few key areas where we thought we could be better as a club. We looked at a few things like our culture and talked about what we really want to do this season and the players responded brilliantly.
“We learnt a lot from that day and it strangely did us good to have that kind of score put on us. We obviously won our next three games and I think we’re in a good place for the first time in a while.”
Going forward, the former Harrogate and York RL stalwart has a relaxed outlook and has urged his players to express themselves as the club begins to build for a return to Yorkshire 1 in the near future.
“We don’t have any specific aims, this year,” Hassall said.
“But as long as we stay in the division and compete, we’ll be happy. We know there are areas of our game we need to work on, our scrum was weak on Saturday, but I think we’ve got the potential to be in the mid to upper part of the table, but there’s no pressure on the lads, they just need to go out and express themselves.
“This year is all about setting the foundations for a better future. We’ve got a young and talented side and, if we can keep them together, we’ve got a real chance of getting to where we want to be.”