WHEN the decision was made to pull Upper Clapton Rugby Club out of their league in Essex One, wipe the slate clean and start afresh, there were many who thought that would spell the end for the popular club.

However, a year on and it is enjoying a Phoenix-like rebirth, having emerged from the ashes and blossomed into a highly-successful, thriving club, with all three of its senior teams still unbeaten this season.

Tired of demoralising 'heavy beatings' consensus ruled that the club should reassess its position and take a new approach.

Some players left, new ones were sworn in and the colts, or juniors, were integrated into the senior sides.

Eventually, with coach Tom Webb in particular putting in a Herculean effort with the new-look squad, the club found itself in rude health and re-entered the world of competitive rugby, this time coming in one division below their previous position, in Essex Two.

The reversal in results has been nothing short of remarkable, with the first team winning all five of their opening games and pushing for top spot in the division, while the second and third teams also remain unbeaten so far this season.

Club chairman Steve Slade, who by his own admission doubted the decision the club took, is delighted by the turnaround that has taken place.

“We were given some fairly heavy beatings,” Slade recalled. “We had a duty of care and listened to the players and considered the implications of getting beat week on week.

“A tough decision was made and we pulled out of the league to refocus on developing players we had and recruiting new players to bolster the club and the first team.

“Tom Webb (coach) has done a fantastic job to get the team to believe in themselves to such a point that we're back into the winning habit.

“It's been a massive transformation and we've been through some very difficult times. There were a lot of people who didn't like what we did. I was one of those dissenting voices but I was brought round in the end. And it's been vindicated by the results that have been achieved.

“Our policy has changed dramatically. We're one club now, not individual teams. We've got 100 players to choose from.

“There's far more interaction between teams. We've managed expectations better and communications have improved.

“Some people thought that would be the end of Upper Clapton but we've proved them wrong.”

The club, which also boasts 200 colt members, is hopeful of starting up a fourth team, while Slade has been working hard to secure the prestigious Rugby Seal of Approval, which recognises how well-run a club is.