New Gleeful anticipation……
So we come to the outskirts of Lancashire for another dose of rugby tomfoolery with a hint of newly found professional brilliance from our bunch of suitably attired juniors.
This season brings us new challenges and new formats to the game we know and love. Just two weeks training (with the blissfully punishing Wednesday fitness session – Registered trademark of “Matts Uniformly Tiring Training Scheme” – Also known as MUTTS) we find ourselves ready for the first competitive game of the season.
*Please ensure any spell checks are appropriately set to not replacing a capital M with a B.
As coaches we have a great deal of pride in showing our compliment of 30+ lads (including injured players offering support from the touchlines), with the promise of a great successful season ahead. We stand forth
*DISCLAIMER – To all new players and parents/guardians this report may contain some language that will confuse and disorientate the reader. In any event of nausea, stomach cramping or loose stools, please stop reading immediately and make haste to the wine rack for immediate liquid refreshment.
Burnley were always going to provide a challenge simply by being our first fixture of the season. As we have shown in the preceding seasons, a slow start seems to be a marker of our early season games. Following a less than brilliant warm up, the coaches hoped that some of the previous fitness and tactical training would show in the ensuing match. Burnley, in contrast showed some signs in their warm up that they were going to give us a less than easy game; with some slick passing through their backs and a well drilled forward unit.
The agreed 4 x 15 minute quarters gave opportunity for at least one period of play for each of the boys; with the added opportunity for some of our players to assist in providing players to deputise the Burnley 15 should they tire and need replacements. The initial skirmishes from both sets of backs showed clearly that the first match of our season was always going to be difficult to show fluid, flowing rugby. The forwards similarly were organised but scrappy in their exchanges, although some of the tactical plays seemed better executed than we had seen in the practice and preceding weeks training. The true “fire-power” came from the finishing of the backs with Lincoln managing to both get through the oppositions last line of defence and the rest of their team on occasion. Due credit must be offered to the opposition who tried their best to manage the game despite not having a just share of possession of the ball and difficulty in maintaining shape due to the pace and room afforded to the hoppers.
The first change around gave the coaches the opportunity to see whether the strength in depth matched our strength in numbers. This change in personnel showed a different aspect to our game. The forwards were able to force the opposition into fighting hard for possession from the ball from rucks and mauls. Albeit a couple of loose balls from the scrum, our lads maintained the counter push with more strength and tenacity than in the previous period. The backs found some further hero’s, most notably in the half-backs use of the blindside ball and some excellent last minute tacking from both our wings. Our opposition found a solitary try to add some points for our gallant hosts, but it was clear to see that they were finding it very difficult to keeping their heads up in the face of having such an unevenly balanced team and points being added the scoreboard (Which on this occasion being in the form of Neils’ frenetically scribbled notebook!).
By the third and fourth quarter the game was all but won by some distance. Further tries were now complimented by a more complete performance with the backs managing to flow in passing down the line, and the forwards counter rucking to win ball with our opposition rarely looking confident in matching their tough physical playing.
Post-game analysis included some great positives to be taken from the match. Developing a “total rugby” ethos was far from achieved in the game, but glimpses of the team we left last season were starting to show.
Most returning players and parents will recognise that these reports would normally contain significant toilet humour or amusing anecdotes; however this weeks will focus on some of the negative aspects of our conduct in the wake of Justins’ email sent earlier this week. Comments to the ref, overly exuberant celebration, disrespectful comments about the opposition/referee and ignorance of the coaches expected behaviour were most concerning to hear of in the wake of this game. We hope this was a one off as our conduct last year matched our performance on the pitch. As a family of players, coaches and parents we try to promote the positive aspects the game and the relationships forged in playing/watching/coaching rugby football. Negative play, conduct, comment and actions present us in totally the wrong light. Whereas last year we were not only respected for our standard of play, but the standard of our conduct both pre, post and during matches. Let us not allow this standard to drop and give other clubs a negative view of PGRFC.