London Skolars coach remains hopeful club can return to League One

JOE MBU says he’ll do everything he can to help put London Skolars into a position where they can bid to return to League One.

While London Broncos won promotion to Super League last season, the capital’s second club pulled out of the third tier after finishing bottom and without a point.

It was a major blow for both the 13-a-aide code in the capital, identified as a key area by IMG in their bid to transform the sport, and the Rugby Football League, who in recent years, have also lost Gloucestershire All Golds, Oxford, Hemel Stags and West Wales Raiders from League One.

Skolars, founded in 1995, have retained Mbu as coach as they prepare for a return to the amateur ranks for the first time since 2002.

The 40-year-old former forward, who played for both Skolars and the Broncos and has also coached Nigeria, is building a squad for the Southern Conference League campaign, which starts in April, and preparing for the annual ‘Capital Challenge’ clash between his former clubs at the Honourable Artillery Company in the City of London on Wednesday, February 21 (2pm).

With pre-season training under way, Mbu told League Express: “There’s already been a good level of interest.

“I’m optimistic we’ll keep a number of last year’s squad, and the aim is to continue doing what the club have always done – give local players an opportunity.”

Mbu began his second spell as Skolars coach in late 2021, having been at the helm from 2010 to 2015, and added: “I’m pleased to carry on.

“Obviously we weren’t happy with last season, and to have to drop out of League One was a huge disappointment.

“But we have to take the positives. We are still going, we have a great facility at the New River Stadium (at Wood Green in the Haringey borough of North London) and after some tough years, we have the chance to regroup.

“We’re under no illusions – the Southern Conference League will be tough, because there are good teams awaiting us.

“But we have the opportunity to blood some younger players and also some from rugby union at a level which isn’t as much of a step up and where there is a bit less pressure, and that will aid their development.

“I came through the junior system here before moving to the Broncos, so I know what the club means and how important a role we can play for Rugby League in London.

“I’m committed to the role, and my aim is to do all I can to help put Skolars in a situation where if the people running the club feel it’s the right route to take, we can try to get back into League One at some point.”

A proposed takeover by Australian sports management company ARC fell through last year, which the club said was central to their League One withdrawal.