LITTLEMORE have taken an encouraging first step in their journey to playing regular rugby again.

The Oxfordshire side hosted Wheatley on Saturday in their first match since they were kicked out of the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Premier last month.

Littlemore’s results were expunged after a lack of players meant they failed to fulfil fixtures and they have since embarked on a recruitment drive to bolster their squad.

The friendly, which Wheatley won 73-19, saw nine former Chinnor players and two ex-Henley Hawks men take to the field.

Many of those had previously played under Lynn Evans, who founded the club in 1976 and has returned in their hour of need.

Although the Wheatley game was just the starting point, the 81-year-old hopes it can pave the way for progress.

He said: “I know they won’t play every week, but if they can start us off and be available as and when then we’ll have a bit more of a chance.”

Littlemore have also increased their social media presence and reached out to players at Oxford Brookes University in a bid to boost their numbers.

The club cancelled six of their first ten league fixtures and lost the other four after their squad fell to just 22 players.

It came after they finished bottom of Southern Counties North last season, which saw several squad members leave.

Evans believes regular matches will start to tempt some former players back and is ready to step aside when firm foundations are laid.

He said: “They’re more likely to return if they see something is happening. It doesn’t happen overnight.

“We know what our job is going to be, but I’ve got to find someone younger who coaches the way I want.”

Oxfordshire’s RFU council member Rob Walsh is leading the recruitment drive and hopes the Wheatley game provides a boost ahead of Littlemore’s next friendly, at home to Oxford on January 18.

He said: “Everybody enjoyed themselves and it was played in a great spirit.

“It was just nice to see people come off the pitch with smiles on their faces.

“It was all about grassroots rugby and hopefully we keep making small steps so they can manage on their own.”