London Scottish chairman Sir David Reid has admitted the Exiles underestimated how strong the Championship would be this season, but has every confidence they will prevail in the relegation play-offs.
Head coach Simon Amor’s men won 20-16 at pool C rivals Esher on Saturday as the fight for survival kicked-off in earnest this weekend.
The Scots, who also face Moseley and Plymouth during the season’s climax over the next two months, have only won six games on their return to the second tier of English rugby.
But Reid insisted last year’s National Division One champions had learned their lesson and would meet the challenge on the day of reckoning.
“It is a tougher league than we anticipated,” he said.
“The top four are very good and the likes of Doncaster and Rotherham are very physical and streetwise.
“We had been aiming to be competing closer to the top and somewhere between fifth and eighth would have been great.
“Of course, we’d have hoped to have done better, but we have learned a lot from the experience and with a bit of luck and hard work, we will be here again next year.”
Scottish turned professional two seasons ago having recovered from their first flirtation with professionalism that, ultimately, saw the Exiles demoted to the lower leagues.
They have a three-year plan to establish themselves in the division and make a push toward reaching the promised land of the Premiership.
The Athletic Ground chairman, a former chairman of Tesco, insisted they would not make the same mistakes of the past.
“It has been an incredible journey back to this level from our lowest ebb when we could not cope with professionalism financially,” he added.
“There is a place we dream to get to, but we are realistic. We have got to show we can deliver and show our strength in this league before we can push on.
“It costs us £1.5m a year in players’ wages and administration costs, but to step up in to the Premiership you need something like £8m or £9m to be competitive. That is a huge step.”
Reid, who was recently honoured with a knighthood in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List, claimed to have played for every London Scottish team in ascending and descending order during more than 40 years at the club.
And having played with and watched a host of internationals at the Athletic Ground, the 65-year-old looked forward to the time when the Kew Foot Road club can produce its own top level stars again.
“I remember playing a game for the first team against London Welsh and there were 15 internationals on the pitch,” he said.
“As a club, we’ve produced 220 Scottish internationals. The last one came in 1998, so producing another one of our own would be a lovely bonus.”