JOHN Brodley believes Oxford have exceeded even their own expectations as they prepare for a third season since their rebirth.

The North Hinksey-based club completed all of their fixtures for a second successive campaign as they finished fifth in rugby’s ninth tier in 2016-17.

Had it not have been for a 20-point deduction for falsifying a match card, Oxford would have come third in the BB&O Championship – just 19 months after ending a four-year hiatus.

Such is their progress, a second XV will be entered into BB&O 4 North this season and a colts side will be formed.

Director of rugby Brodley said: “I think we probably exceeded expectations last season in as much as we fulfilled all our obligations to league rugby.

“By the end of the year, we were carrying quite a lot of reserves, so we’ve entered our second team into the league next season.

“We’re quietly confident we can attract a few extra players, so that’s sustainable across the whole season.

“Another thing we’re really pleased about, on the back of our under 16s winning the county plate, is we’re going to have a colts team for probably the first time in a decade.”

Even the punishment for fielding two players not listed on a match card last November, which Brodley stressed was a “genuine mistake”, has contributed to improvements.

He added: “We finished the season strongly and we knew we had the points deduction, but we have identified one or two weaknesses and blocked those holes.

“It looks like we were moving quicker on the pitch than we were behind the scenes.

“We’ve got to get our backroom organisation sorted as well.

“From my point of view, I was philosophical about it (the points deduction) and it taught us a lesson.”

Oxford, who were founded in 1909, played their first competitive fixture in four years when they faced Littlemore in September 2015.

With the City of Oxford Rugby Partnership, which tabled plans for a merger between the club and Oxford Harlequins in 2011, officially ending two years ago, the club is standing on its own two feet once more.

And the plan for this season, which starts with an away fixture at Faringdon on September 16, is to be challenging for a place in the BB&O Premier.

Brodley said: “Realistically, we’re looking for the first team to get promoted.

“The county shield came upon us last season – we’re going to take that more seriously as well.

“Our other focus is ground improvements and just to bring on all those colts.

“We have a group of young players coming through and the big challenge is to retain as many of those as we can.

“What they have now is a senior club that they can aspire to whereas in the past they had to play elsewhere.”