Following their third straight defeat, you’d be for forgiven for thinking that there might just be a few worries, and a sense of a growing crisis at Macclesfield Rugby Club. After all, the Blues have never lost 3 in a row before under the reigns of Geoff Wappett. Yet when you talk to the Director of Rugby and Head Coach, you’ll find that there’s no crisis as far as he’s concerned. Yes, there are issues to address, and areas of the game plan that may need a little work, but essentially Macclesfield are going reasonably well, and just not getting the rub of the green at the moment. They’re playing well and scoring tries, so Geoff is pretty confident that Lady Luck will start to shine on the Blues favourably before too long. In the meantime the team will continue to work hard and rectify any problems that have been spotted. Here Geoff talks to Macclesfield Rugby about last Saturday’s disappointing defeat, staying focused and playing the percentages. He also looks forward to Saturday’s encounter with local rivals Fylde Rugby – a game he’s expecting to be pulsating and close-fought.
What went wrong against Coventry? You seemed to be controlling the game at one point.
“For the first 20 minutes or so, we put a very good game together. We were in total control of proceedings in spite of the strong wind. We scored a nicely worked try and looked comfortable. I was really pleased with the performance: we were making the right decisions in all the right places on the field. Then we had a disastrous 10 minute period where we just seemed to fall to pieces. They scored 3 easy tries and a penalty and led by 22 points to 5.”
So, what happened?
“I still can’t figure that out. I don’t know what went wrong. All I know is for that 10 minute period Coventry couldn’t do anything wrong, and we couldn’t do anything right. In the second half we started to put it together again, and got to grips with the problems we’d had. Unfortunately, Richard Wigham got binned for stopping somebody taking a quick tap penalty and we were down to 14 men and up against it. It seemed harsh at the time, but these things happen: you just have to get on with it. The disruption didn’t help us, but never the less we actually scored a try soon after that through Josh Fowles. “
“We then seemed to get into our stride and put some pressure on Coventry in spite of being a man down. But every time we seemed to be taking the upper hand we let a sloppy tackle slip and we let them back in the game. When we got the score to 29 – 25, they were rocking and rolling: they were literally out on their feet and hanging on. And then bloody hell, we missed a soft tackle again, and their winger Stevens stepped through and scored to take us out of losing bonus point range. I just didn’t expect that. With 12 minutes to go, we were in charge. Then one poor restart and a poor piece of defence let them in almost immediately to score and put the game beyond us. That gave them the confidence and they held on for the victory.”
Do you think the Blues are going through some sort of crisis at the moment?
“No, not at all. We’re nearly there in rugby terms. All we possibly need is the rub of the green. We’re playing well and scoring, but it seems to be when we mess up, we mess up badly. OK, we’ve lost 3 games and some people may see that as a crisis. But it’s not a crisis as far as I’m concerned. I’d be really concerned if we were getting hammered and lost 33 – 6 and only managed to kick 2 long range penalty goals. Now, if we never looked like scoring, and were getting completely outclassed, that would be a problem, but it’s not like that. The way I look at it is that the margins are very fine, and we’re just on the wrong side of those margins at the moment. What we need to do is make sure we make those tackles we’ve been missing and concentrate for the whole 80 minutes. If we do that then the margins will begin to swing the other way.”
“There are some good sides in this league. All of them on their day are more than capable of beating each other. The fact that we’ve lost 3 on the trot makes it hurt more, because we‘ve never had that happen before. It’s not something we’re used to, and it’s definitely not something we want to get used to. So we’re working hard to cut out those mistakes in training this week ahead of the Fylde game.”
Speaking of Fylde – how do you see the game going this weekend?
“We’ve always had some good and stiff contests with Fylde. The way I look at it is this: we beat both Rosslyn Park and Coventry home and away last year, so maybe the fear of failure wasn’t as emphatic as it might’ve been this season. Now, I’m not suggesting we went into these games arrogantly, expecting to win; just that we didn’t necessarily fear failure and perhaps that affected our performance. That certainly won’t be the case with Fylde. Yes we’ve beaten them in all 4 matches the Blues have played against them since I’ve been here, but that counts for nothing this weekend.”
“What happens with these games is that they’re always tight and always hard fought. What got us through the previous 4 matches, and what I hope will get us through the next one, is the fear of failure. It seems to bring the best out of us. Fylde have had a similar start to the season to us, and are playing good rugby. We know we have to be at our very best to win. We want to win, and definitely fear losing, so hopefully that will encourage us and spur us on to a great performance. That’s what I’m hoping anyway, and that’s the message I’ll be giving to team this week.”