ANTHONY O'Riordan has backed Colchester Rugby Club to come back stronger after they missed out on promotion.

The Blacks were second behind top of the table North Walsham and looked on course to clinch a play-off spot in London One North.

But they were denied after the campaign was cut short prematurely, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The RFU made league promotion and relegations decisions based on current placement and points, with London One South team Westcombe Park awarded promotion to London and SE Premier due to their greater number of league points, over the course of the season.

In a message directed to Colchester RC's players, supporters and club members, director of rugby O'Riordan said: "Looking forward, the future is bright, and as we live through these challenging times I truly believe that we will come back stronger.

"It is adversity that creates character, develops resilience and reaffirms our appreciation of what we have in our lives. I expect us to re-group, re-think and re-play the season in a fun, enjoyable but ruthlessly professional manner.

"Lots of people mistake me for a coach and Director of Rugby whose sole focus is on promotion.

"Those of you who know me will know this is an inaccurate characterisation. In fact, my focus is on being better week by week, expecting players to commit to cause as if for that Saturday afternoon our lives depended on it.

"There are very few occasions in this modern life we lead that we can say that we have wholeheartedly committed to a band of brothers, that we have stood shoulder to shoulder, putting bodies on the line to beat an opposition in a way that demonstrates and personifies the unrelenting commitment to training and innovation - I believe that these behaviours look after the end result.

"As clubs across the country consider their futures, team rosters and expenses, your club is priming itself for the most significant physical and metaphorical development in the history of Colchester RFC.

"We will have friends at other clubs who may unfortunately not exist in their current form within the coming months. Rest assured that will not be us, we will come out of this truly sad experience, reinvigorated, re-focused and stronger than ever.

"This belief is reinforced by the fact that whilst others may have to make difficult decisions at their clubs, we can look forward to our amazing new home and all the great opportunities it will bring."

O'Riordan said he was comfortable with the RFU's decision to promote Westcombe Park - and says he has renewed excitement about what is to come.

He said: "As many of you know I am somewhat old fashioned; I believe in hard work, grinding out results and winning - or being beaten.

"I do not believe in luck; in my humble opinion luck favours the unprepared and I am comfortable being beaten but cannot stand losing.

"The recent revelation that promotions and relegations have assumed that league positions would have remained for the rest of the season, in our case, is simply not true.

"You’d expect me to say “of course we would have finished second and of course we would win the playoff” and that statement I believe is true.

"I have been at Colchester Rugby Club some six years and I have shared with you many happy times in our personal lives, working lives and rugby lives; likewise, we have also shared the trials and tribulations of life.

"One thing has remained… our unrelenting pursuit of perfection - knowing that this is unobtainable but knowing that along the way we have achieved excellence. I know in my heart and my head that we would have done the job this year.

"However, I would not have wanted that success to be attributed to a lucky outcome from the RFU.

"I want us to share the combined challenge and live through the experience of such an achievement. There are actually very few players and coaches that can say they have been part of a team, a family and a community that has strategically planned for promotion and week by week have left no stone unturned in the pursuit of that quest."