BIRMINGHAM & Solihull Bees start life in National League Two South with an away game at Tonbridge Juddians in Kent tomorrow (Saturday).
Last season’s Midlands Premier Division champions, who secured promotion after winning 23 of their 26 league games, ordinarily would have been promoted to the northern section of National League Two.
However, due to an imbalance of numbers in the respective divisions as a result of promotions and relegations from other leagues, the Bees were level transferred from the North to the South on the basis of relative mileage calculations.
The club has been back in training since early July and a successful pre-season programme saw the Bees unbeaten in four warm up games – winning away at Bournemouth, winning at home against Earlsdon and Burton as well as a hard fought draw against National Two North side Stourbridge last Friday evening.
Eight new signings in the closed season have further bolstered resources in readiness for the new campaign in England’s fourth tier of rugby union.
At the same time, Pete Glackin has retained no less than 32 members from the championship-winning squad.
Marcus Brown, already a familiar and popular figure at the club following his loan spell from Cinderford last season, has joined the Bees on a permanent basis.
The front row union has two additions in the form of hooker Dale Garner and Hooker/Prop Alex Willis.
Alex Willis featured in the Bournville side for the last two seasons, as well as also playing representative rugby for North Midlands, whilst Dale Garner played for the Bees in the Championship days.
Engine room options have also been bolstered with the addition of second rower Will Goodman, who plied his trade with Hertford in the London & South East Premier League last season.
In the back division, there are four new signings.
Corey Venus and Adam Nunney have both joined from National League Two North side South Leicester, with Dan Kelly and Luke Smith – both with previous connections to the club – also putting pen to paper.
Portway will be familiar territory for Age Grade product Dan Kelly, who returns to the Bees after university and rugby development in the north of England.
Whilst playing university rugby at both Sheffield and Leeds Beckett, where he was also a member of the England Students squad in 2017/18, Dan also featured for Newcastle Falcons in A League rugby as well as appearances for Sheffield Tigers and Rotherham Titans.
As well as the new squad signings, Steve Johns has moved to a player/backs coach role for the 2018/19 season, adding to the senior coaching group.