What do you get when you stage an inter-squad match? Well, judging by the action on Saturday, the answer seems to be commitment, dedication and a right old tussle for starting places. Macclesfield Rugby’s inter-squad match gave Director of Rugby and Head Coach, Geoff Wappett, plenty of food for thought ahead of the busy week in which the Blues will play Burnage, Rotherham and Loughborough. For some coaches the competition for first team places may cause a headache, but for Geoff it’s a price that’s more than worth paying. The more competitive a squad is: the greater the motivation to improve. Here’s Geoff’s take on what he saw last weekend, and what he’s learned.
Did you learn everything you need to know from the inter-squad match?
“We had a really good day on Saturday. I learned what I wanted to know, and more besides. The game was tight and hard-fought, but the attitude and commitment of all of the players was outstanding. We had a good turn out on the day, though naturally there were a number of absentees through injury and holidays – may be a dozen or so. But the positive thing is that it gives other players the opportunity to show themselves and put themselves in contention.”
Who stood out for you?
“Matt Thorpe, who came through the Club ranks and is now at York University, had a tremendous day. I saw his potential towards the back end of last season, and he showed just how good he could become. He was everywhere, playing primarily on the open side, but he could just as easily play at hooker. He was absolutely outstanding, as was a young man called Dominic Gosling. He’s a Liverpool University student who comes from the south of England. He was injured throughout the whole of last year, so never featured for us. He was a revelation on the wing and played extremely well. I though Mike Barwell, who we already know about, looked strong. He’s a very mature player and a good kicker of a ball, both out of hand and place kicking. Josh de Groot from Buxton, our second row, looked a very strong lad: he’s got some prospects and has great potential. Some of youngsters coming through the Club showed real promise. Jack Sadler, at number 7, looked good and played very well.”
“It was also good to see Dean Williams back at his best too. He had a good off-season and has rehabilitated well after his knee surgery. He looked so much more comfortable and that has to be encouraging for us. Young Josh Hodgkinson looked good even though he’s had limited preparation after several shoulder operations. Unfortunately he took a bit of a knock on his shoulder, so I’m not sure where we stand with him at the moment.”
What would you say you’ve learned so far?
“Well, there was a lot of information we can take out of that match; lots of good positive stuff. We tried out a lot of different players in different positions so we now know where we stand when it comes to cover for absences or injuries. Henry Ravenscroft, a young man who left Kings School at the back end of last year, trained with us last summer. He plays predominantly as a full back, but, as we saw, he can also turn his hand to scrum half. He looked very good – very sharp indeed. He’s staying around in the Macclesfield area working in the catering trade, so he’ll be a valuable addition to the squad.”
“So there’s lots of encouraging stuff to take out of the match, though it has to be stressed that there were some absences. Matt Owens is away on agricultural contracting work, Tom Eaton’s away on holiday, Ryan Parkinson is still recovering from Knee surgery, Dave Marwick has yet to return from honeymoon, and Ed Stobart who although recovered from last season’s injury, unfortunately cut his foot badly after standing on some glass on a beach holiday in Thailand. So we’ve still got a few people to see, and we need to make sure we leave no stone unturned: but we’ve got plenty to work with already ahead on this week’s training and matches.”
Any news about the triangular match at the weekend?
“Yes – just one thing I’d like to pass on to supporters. Because Loughborough aren’t yet able to bring a large enough squad to Priory Park this early in the season, there will be no A game this weekend. The games will start at 2.30 with Loughborough taking on Rotherham. At 3.15 Macclesfield Blues will play Loughborough for 40 minutes, and finally Macclesfield will play Rotherham at 4.00pm.”