When we throw the ball about we do it to score, not just because we can’t think of anything better to do with it.

18th January 2012

So, the good run continues. Another fine performance against Barking and seven tries and a bonus point secured. Fingers crossed we can continue this run of form when Cambridge come to visit Priory Park next Saturday. Head Coach and Director of Rugby, Geoff Wappett, has warned that the game would certainly not be a walk in the park, and he was proved to be correct, even if the manner of the victory proved to be more emphatic than many of us would ever have imagined. Anyway, Macclesfield Rugby caught up with Geoff after a couple of day’s reflection, and asked him if he was completely satisfied with his and his team’s lot. Here Geoff talks to Macc Rugby about style versus substance, free scoring and statistics.

Did the Barking game pan out as you expected?

“Yes, pretty much so. We played very well indeed and I was pleased with the result. Charlie Mulchrone had a belting game, but in fairness the forwards gave him a really good platform to work with. Obviously he deserves some plaudits and you have to admit he took advantage of this forward domination extremely well. The way he plays will always help: he’s got such good acceleration and he’s got a fantastic ability to spot a gap. We managed to spread Barking’s defence and that helped too. We’d pick and go and steadily move up the field, and eventually Barking were forced to come in tight and leave gaps out wide for Charlie and the likes to exploit. I think you could sum up the performance by saying that the Mulchrone family made a good contribution to the day.”

Were you confident from the start?

“The game panned out pretty much as I thought it would with perhaps the exception being in the first half. By half time I was a little bit annoyed as I thought we were a bit slack occasionally. We’ve done it before too, and set off well, then somehow get into the mindset that if things are going well we don’t need to concentrate as much as we should. So, we had an occasional lapse, but for a large part of the game it went pretty much according to plan. We had a good start, though Barking nearly scored in the first minute. After that we played extraordinarily well, and opened them up at ease. We actually butchered 2 or 3 chances and could’ve had more. Once we start to score we look a really decent free-running outfit.”

Why do you think everything came together for this game?

“The biggest difference in this game was the surface. It was firm, almost to the point of being frozen solid. The frost had pulled the ground together giving us the best surface we’d played on for a good while. It allowed our running, handling and support play to be carried out with a surety and certainty that had been lacking in previous weeks. The firm playing surface made the difference and it just showed in the style of our rugby. Having said that, Barking were pretty good and made us work for the result. They never slackened off. They scored 2 good tries too. We needed to be on our mettle for the whole 80 minutes. As I said last week, they’ve beaten Ealing at home and Fylde away, so we knew they were capable of doing damage. The difference between the sides is that we managed to take control of the forward areas and dictated play. So, all in all, I’m satisfied and the team are too. We scored 7 tries got the victory and the bonus point which made the 400 mile round trip satisfactory.”

What are you expecting from Cambridge?

“Cambridge are a threat certainly, but we feel confident. We had a great game down at their place and beat them by about 3 points. That day Wheatcroft, their big centre, had a big game. I think he kicked 18 points and had a real glory day, and along with the referee kept them in the game. We know when we play them this time that we’ll have to reduce the penalty count and play with more discipline. If we can do that and play something like to form, then I’d hope that our good run will continue.  Cambridge are only just behind us in terms of league position, but 15 points or so behind in terms of league points. Don’t get me wrong, Cambridge are a good side, but although they’re known to throw it about a lot, they don’t necessarily produce the end product. By playing too positive and open this year, I suspect they’ve probably lost games they could’ve won if they’d played tighter.”

You said you’d been looking at statistics – anything in particular catch your eye?

“I was looking at the statistics over the weekend and discovered that we are the second highest try scorers in the league behind Fylde.  We scored 72 tries so far this season, an average of just under 4 a game. Our backs have scored 50 of those tries with the back three scoring 30. So for all the criticism we’ve had that we’re a forward-orientated side that does too much driving, these figures prove just how wrong it is. They’re just talking nonsense. When we throw the ball about we do it to score, not just because we can’t think of anything better to do with it.”

“Speaking of statistics, I noticed on Saturday that this season we’ve had 3, 166 supporters in total watching our home games. On Saturday when Jersey played Rosslyn Park they had a crowd of 3, 648 supporters. If they were to charge £12 a head, they would’ve got £43,786 in gate receipts for that game alone. That figure’s about 2 thirds of our annual rugby budget. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about our budget. I think we’re coping pretty well in the circumstances, but it does make you think, doesn’t it?”