BASINGSTOKE RFC head coach Will Croker is delighted about the club’s new link-up with the University of Winchester ahead of their forthcoming campaign.

’Stoke will have the services of two of the university’s senior lecturers, Richard Cheetham and Helen Ryan.

Ryan will be providing sport science support and Cheetham will be looking after strength and conditioning.

This is a major step forward for the London One South club as the players will have their bad fat levels, diet and hydration monitored by the team.

’Stoke are the only side outside the National League to be doing this and the programme illustrates the professional manner in which the club is being run.

Ryan joined Winchester University in 2008, after four years living and working in New Zealand, where she was involved in rugby, netball, triathlon and cycling.

Cheetham is an experienced rugby coach educator for Hampshire RFU and also spent a season at Saracens before linking up with Basingstoke a few years ago.

Also, as part of the university link-up, masters students will be studying game footage and picking clips for coaching purposes for ’Stoke.

There will also coaching sessions from the Basingstoke coaches at the university.

Basingstoke head coach Will Croker said: “This is huge link-up for the club and it shows we are looking after our players. I hope this will encourage others to join us.

“As a club, we want to be known as the best in Hampshire and I believe this is another big step.

“I am really looking forward to working with everyone at the University of Winchester and I am sure we can benefit each other.

“I hope this is the start of a lasting relationship.”

In other news, the Down Grange club have made two new appoint-ments to the board.

Gareth Lewis has been appointed to a voluntary role overseeing the commercial and marketing activities of the club, while David Cudmore has been appointed general manager.

Both of them are former ’Stoke players and chairman Steve Tristram said: “I am very pleased to have them on board as they bring both experience and knowledge to their respective roles.”