It wasn’t the end to the season that all the supporters had hoped for, but it’s over with now. It’s time to take stock, plan for next season and move on. Macclesfield Blues put in a spirited performance against high-flying Fylde at the weekend at Priory Park, but in spite of the narrow win and a 4 point victory, the team could not match the result at Wharfedale. So Macclesfield Blues lost their relegation battle and will be playing in National Two North next season. Now you would have expected Head Coach and Director of Rugby, Geoff Wappett, to be downbeat with all that’s happened. In fairness he is still disappointed, but Geoff’s also pragmatic. He believes there’s no point crying over spilt milk: the important thing is to move on and plan for the season ahead. That’s exactly what Geoff intends to do. Here, for the last time this season, Geoff talks to Macclesfield Rugby about how he is looking forward to next season and blooding some of the young guns.
The Blues did all that could’ve been expected from them, but just came up short. You must still be disappointed?
“Well, no, not really. I’ve just about recovered from Saturday’s disappointment. We did pretty much all we could, and to be fair to Wharfedale they responded in kind. We were matching each other very much week by week throughout the season, and maybe our finish to the season and our run in was just a little bit tougher than theirs, but there you are.”
“I certainly don’t think the lads have anything to reproach themselves for in this campaign. If you look through the league tables, there isn’t a league there where if you’d won 13 games and drawn one you wouldn’t be safely positioned in mid-table. It just goes to prove how tough this league’s been this year. I know it’s little consolation, but it’s just the way it is.”
Have you thought about next season yet, or is it too soon?
“It’s never too soon. All our attentions are absolutely focused on next season now. There’ll be no sitting round licking our wounds or moping about, we just have to get on with the job and do what we have to do to bounce straight back up. It’s a bit of a cliché I know, but we have to focus on the positives. We’ve got some very good young players coming through. They’ve been playing with the second 15 and have earned their chances now.”
“They may be young, in some cases barely out of school, but they’re really coming along and I’ve got high expectations for them. I think National Two North will be a much better league for them to develop in. Playing in National One would probably have been asking too much of them now, but by the time we get back there, they’ll have had the necessary experience and be raring to go.”
“That’s not saying that we won’t be looking to add a few mature and experienced players to the squad as well. We’ve already managed to retain pretty much all of our existing playing squad and tied them up for next year. Obviously there’s no point keeping players who don’t want to be there, but that certainly isn’t the case as far as I’m aware.”
Are any existing players likely to leave or move on?
“Gavin Woods, I think, will be going over to Chester, and in fairness it’s probably a good move for him as he didn’t get a lot of field time this year behind Tom Mantell. Alan Marsh has retired after a good innings. There might be a chance he’ll go back to Liverpool/St Helens, but I can’t be sure about that at the moment. Dean Williams was going to go out to Abu Dhabi in search of fame and fortune, but I think he’s having second thoughts about that. Hopefully he will anyway.”
“Pretty much everyone else we finished the season with will be retained for next year. So we’ll have a squad with a little bit of youth and a little bit of experience to kick off next season’s campaign, and I’m already looking forward to it – well, after recharging my batteries somewhere warm for a while at least.”
Catch up with more from Geoff throughout the course of the summer.