Jersey may well be the island home of the super-rich, and the land of plenty, but it’s pretty obvious after last weekend’s result that the islanders don’t believe in sharing it around. Jersey Rugby Club don’t believe in wealth or points redistribution. It was always going to be difficult. Jersey are the form team of the league and have been playing the best rugby all season, so getting any sort of result was always asking a lot. If you took the score at face value, you’d naturally assume that Macclesfield Rugby Club got a bit of a spanking over there. Yet Head Coach and Director of Rugby, Geoff Wappett, wouldn’t agree. If anything Geoff believes the Blues were in with a shout for a very large part of the game. Luck just didn’t favour the brave on this occasion. This week Geoff talks to Macclesfield Rugby about defensive menace, medicine and moving on
Well, I don’t suppose the team saw that result coming, did they?
“No it wasn’t the result we wanted or expected to get, but sometimes you just have to accept these things and move on. Don’t get me wrong, it was horrible and I felt physically sick. You know we’ve never been nilled in my time here, and hopefully we will never be again. The thing is the game wasn’t as clear cut and straightforward as the result might make it look. We were still in it at half time, and had given a good account of ourselves in the circumstances.”
“For the first half we were playing uphill and into the wind. Now that might sound like a poor excuse, but it’s true. That just made our task that little bit harder. Make no bones about it, Jersey are a good team. I’ve said it before for me they’re the best team in the league. So obviously you don’t want to put yourself at a disadvantage unnecessarily. They scored an easy try early on, but only managed to get one other penalty score in the half. So going in at only 10 nil down at the whistle wasn’t the end of the world. The thing about Jersey is that they defend so well and give away so few chances, that it makes it difficult to compete against them.”
Did the Blues not have any chances themselves during the first half?
“Yes we had one or two chances ourselves in the first 40 minutes, but there was no point kicking as the wind was too blustery. So we decided to keep the ball in hand and try to look for more. From an attacking sense I don’t think Jersey are the most dangerous side we’ve played, but it’s when they haven’t got the ball that they’re at their most dangerous. They compress the space and force errors and turnovers, so it’s very difficult to build momentum, because you’re always worried that you’ll make a mistake and concede more points.”
Did you alter the plan for the second half?
“No. Our second half plan was to simply stick to what we’d discussed in training and hopefully take advantage when the wind and slope were in our favour. It was going well, until we conceded an interception try. I suppose that’s when it all started to unravel. We moved away from the game plan and tried to pay the ball more. When you try to force it you’re always likely to make yourselves vulnerable and concede more points. Sure enough, less than two minutes later they latched onto another interception ball. And suddenly we were 24 nil down. We had one or two opportunities, but when your luck’s not in, it’s just not in. Even Ross’ kicking wasn’t up to its usual standard. I guess it was just one of those days. We were much better than the score suggests, but sometimes you just have to take your medicine, learn and move on.”
What now? How will affect confidence going into the Cinderford game?
“I don’t think it will have an adverse effect on team morale: in fact, I’m hoping it will do the opposite. Good teams respond well to adversity, and we’ve shown before that we can come back well from disappointments. Just look at where we’re sitting in the league. We’re still in sixth place, and you only get that high if you’re a good team who can mix it with the best. Sometimes disappointments can be the greatest motivators. We have to show that last week’s result was a bit of a fluke, and certainly a one off. Make no mistakes; the lads will be up for this one.”
“Cinderford may have had a quiet start to the early season, but they picked up momentum now, and have had a good run of results. I think they’re currently lying in eight position. They’ve got a good strong pack and an excellent fly half in Rory Teague. They’ll make it as difficult as possible for us, and I’d expect no less. The good thing about sport is that although you might suffer bad results and setbacks occasionally, there’s always an opportunity to set matters straight the following week. This is our opportunity, and I want the lads to go out and end the campaign in style.