OXFORDSHIRE head coach Greg Goodfellow hopes retaining a title is just the beginning for his side.

A 42-7 win against Essex ensured Oxfordshire held on to their Division Three crown at the Bill Beaumont County Championship.

Oxfordshire also won the title in 2017, and due to there being no competition in 2020 and 2021 because of Covid-19, it means the county have tasted victory three times in five attempts.

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Having navigated the path from player to coach, Chinnor player and coach Goodfellow was delighted to see hard work over the last few weeks pay off.

He told this newspaper: “For me, it was a sense of relief and for the players, celebration and joy.

“At the beginning of all this, I’d have been happy with one win but to come away with the title is pleasing.

“The first half was pretty even and quite tense but once we got those couple of scores in the second half, it relaxed a bit.

“Once we got that lead, it was never in doubt.

“I’m extremely proud of all the coaching staff and the hard work they’ve put in, and what I’ve managed to achieve going from a player to a coach.

“You think ‘will they listen?’ but the proof is in the pudding.

“There’s a big sense of pride that I’ve kept a big squad together for the last five or six weeks.

“It’s one big group effort and a group collective.”

Goodfellow added: “What I would take away from the game is that there’s plenty of potential within the squad.

“We need to push ahead as a group of coaches.

“At one stage, we were all players and wanted to play at the highest level.

“It’s the same now we’re coaches, you want to be at the highest level and we need to be testing ourselves.

“We’ll have a couple of weeks of downtime away from rugby and then the coaches will come back together.

“We’ll look at what went well, what we can improve on, the positions we can strengthen, sponsorship opportunities and media coverage.”

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Growing the county game has been key for Goodfellow this year, both on and off the pitch.

“Winning titles helps to get attention and it gets people looking – success breeds success,” he said.

“From a coaching point of view, we’ve had a very good year and we’re hoping that players part of that will return.

“There are always opportunities for players – you have to put your hand up and put your best foot forward as a player.

“It’s a journey and a project. We’ve been in Division Three a little while now and the aim is to get into Division One.

“The way we do that is by being humble, and creating a culture and environment where people want to play rugby for their county at the end of the season.”

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About the author

To sign up to Liam’s latest Oxford United newsletter for free, click here: https://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/newsletters/

Formerly the politics reporter for the Oxford Mail, Liam now covers all things Oxford United.

Liam attends the U’s home and away, as well as covering other big sports stories across the county.

His Oxford United newsletter is released every Saturday morning at 6am.