‘Generally in sport you make your own luck, and you do that by working hard’
That‘s the belief of Head Coach, Giles Heagerty. That’s what he told Macclesfield Rugby when he spoke to us earlier this week. Yes the two consecutive home defeats at Priory Park have been disappointing, but he’s seen enough in Macclesfield Blues’ performances so far to convince him that eventually the team’s fortunes will change. Injuries certainly haven’t helped the situation, but he doesn’t believe in using that as an excuse. The responsibility lies with the players, and it’s the players in the squad who will ultimately turn things around. Giles is hopeful that the change in fortune will start on Saturday when the Blues travel down to Rydens Road to play Esher. Here’s what Giles has to say.
What’s your opinion on the last two home performances?
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the last two games it’s that it doesn’t matter how well you plan and prepare, there are just things you cannot control or cater for. The spate of injuries that have hit us over the last couple of weeks have been very difficult to deal with. It’s a real shame and has seriously disrupted our preparations. To lose Tom Mantell was a blow in itself; but to then lose Dean Williams and Chris Jones for what looks like a significant period of time, and Billy Robinson for potentially 3 weeks puts a strain on the resources we have available to us.”
“We can’t just assume that everyone is going to stay fit and be available at the times you’d like, and that’s been a salutary lesson for all of us. I don’t honestly think there’s anything we could’ve done differently to prevent those injuries. It’s just part of the game. It’s a contact sport and people will inevitably get injured.”
The other lesson I’ve learned is that change takes time. I was probably a little naïve believing that things would bed in quickly. We’re playing with a different rugby philosophy now, so expecting it to work right from the start was probably too optimistic on my part. Like I said in my post-match interview on Saturday, when you have a significant turnover of players in a short space of time you will inevitably lose momentum. In the unforgiving world of National 1 rugby there’s no time to ease yourself in gradually: you have to adapt, and you have to adapt quickly. That’s the challenge we now face.”
“At least we now know where we stand. We know how long the players are out for and we know that we haven’t got the money to just go out and bring in other players to replace them. So the remaining members of the squad will need to step up and lead. By that I don’t mean ‘leading’ in terms of captaincy: what I mean is lead in terms of certain players taking responsibility for our play on the field which under normal circumstances they wouldn’t have expected to be doing. I’m hoping the players will seize this opportunity, and I’m hoping we’ll see a lot more of player’s leadership qualities showing themselves on the field.”
What have you made of the last two performances?
“Well we have to accept that Fylde were a team bang on form last weekend, but in fairness we probably made it easier for them than we should have. We had 3 definite opportunities to score points in that game, but credit to Fylde’s defence they shut us out. The problem is when you’re under pressure and chasing a game you tend to do things and make choices that you wouldn’t normally do. We were forcing passes that weren’t on, and taking play one phase further than we would normally have done; that ultimately cost us the game. Fylde were strong defensively and ruthless in attack, and we paid the price.”
“Yet we’ve played some very good rugby over the course of the last 160 minutes, but we just haven’t quite had the bounce of the ball. We need a little bit of luck, and hopefully we’ll get that in due course. But generally in sport you make your own luck, and you do that by working hard. The players are confident, and should be confident in what they’re doing, and all we have to do is keep going and try to get better each week. We had great support off the field from the Club, and I’m confident that that will continue to be the case.”
What are you expecting from Esher?
“Esher lost to Richmond at the weekend – a team we’d pushed all the way the week before at Priory Park. How much you can read into that I’m not sure. It’s still early days in the National 1 season so the scorelines don’t necessarily paint an accurate picture. There have been a lot of high scoring games, and also a lot of narrow victories/losses. That’s typical of what we’ve seen in National 1 over the last 2 or 3 years. I don’t think things will probably settle down properly until the end of September/ middle of October. It’s only then that we’ll be able to see things more clearly.”
“Esher have got a very good rugby pedigree. Two years ago they played some of the best rugby that I’d seen in National 1 that year. Admittedly they had a number of duel-registration players available from Harlequins – outstanding players like Jack Clifford and Charlie Walker. Whether that relationship still exists I don’t know. What I do know is that if you underestimate any side in National 1, then you’ll come unstuck. Every side deserves respect, because every side is capable of winning home or away on their day. I include us in that, and I don’t mean that flippantly. I genuinely believe that we are very capable of competing in National 1, and capable of winning plenty of games. What’s more I know we’ll win plenty of games because that’s where we want to be and deserve to be.”