Whenever you want an honest and considered opinion about any issue, I find it’s always best to speak to the man at the top. It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about rugby, politics or business: the man who steers the team is the person whose opinion matters most. So, if you’re a supporter of Macclesfield Rugby Club and are wondering what the coming season holds for your team, you’d naturally want to hear from the Director of Rugby, and former England Under 19 and 21s coach, Geoff Wappett. Over the course of the coming season, Geoff will share his thoughts about all matters that concern not just Macclesfield Rugby Club, but also the World Cup, England Rugby and the nature of the game itself. In the first article Geoff shares his thoughts about the current Macclesfield Rugby squad and his and the Club’s expectations for the coming season.
What are the Club’s expectations for the season?
“What are the expectations? Well, that’s not exactly easy to answer. Obviously everybody has different expectations of the team, be that spectators or the Committee. Naturally these expectations grow with every season. When Andy Northey and I first came here, the expectation was simply to win enough games to hopefully stay in the league. We finished third in the end which was great, but obviously everybody’s expectations were raised even higher. With every season that passes, everybody wants us to do better and improve. In some ways that’s good and natural, but it can also be a bit of a double-edged sword, as it gets increasingly more difficult to improve upon what you did last year. What’s important is to try to be realistic about it. All the team can ever really do is to aim to do better and achieve more than last year.”
Which teams do you feel will offer the greatest threat in this year’s National One league?
“It’s difficult to decide who’ll provide the greatest threats this early on. You’ll only really be in a position to judge that after a few games have been played and you’ve seen what other teams have to offer and what threats they pose. All the teams are constantly changing personnel, so that means it’s almost impossible to get any clear indication of who’ll be the strongest opposition, and who won’t provide too much of a threat. The thing is, if you worry too much about your opponents, you’ll just get caught up in and loose sight of what really matters – your team. All you can do is concentrate on your own squad, and try to make the best use of your own strengths and minimise any potential weaknesses.”
How’s the Blues squad looking this year and which new players are you excited about?
“I think we’ve strengthened the team again this season, and luckily have had a reasonable pre-season. I would expect us to score more points this year. What I’ve said to the boys is this: last season we scored 95 points in the league, and I’d like us to score more than that this season. Of course that might mean we score 95 points or more and end up finishing sixth, but it might equally get us second place. All I’d like us to do is try to improve upon our performances of last season and continue to progress. If we do this, the all things being equal, we should end up scoring more points.”
“We’re pretty confident we’ll do well this year. It’s all relative obviously and still early days, but things are looking quite good. We’ve had a decent pre-season and we’ve recruited some good quality players who we know will strengthen the squad. We’ve brought in props Gavin Woods and Martin Kemp, Dean Williams a big lock forward, and Ed Stobart, a really good winger with real pace and threat. Fergus Mulchrone’s also come back from a year at Sale and gives us a real attacking threat. Both these lads have got real pace and that will only add to the team, and mean we can offer something different. Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t exactly what you’d call slow last year, but Fergus and Ed will just give us that added impetus, particularly when we’re attacking down that 13/15 channel. Last year we were pretty restricted on our lines of attack simply because we were short of that injection of real pace. Hopefully this season will be better.”