What’s the worst thing about being a coach? Managing expectations, or having to answer difficult and uncomfortable questions after a string of defeats? Well, we’d guess that it’s the latter. Nobody really wants to put their head above the parapet and take the flack. A lot of coaches would run for cover and hope that the bad news will simply vanish. That can’t be said for Macclesfield Blues Head Coach, Giles Heagerty. If there are difficult questions to answer, then he’s more than happy to face the music and take whatever criticism might be coming his way. So after another heavy defeat at the hands of Blackheath, Macclesfield Rugby decided to ask one or two of those difficult questions. Here’s what Giles had to say.
Given Macclesfield Blues’ poor run of results so far this season are you concerned or worried that the team’s long-term future in National 1 is under threat?
“Well, that’s a fair question and I suppose it’s one that many people might be wondering about. The answer to that honestly is no. But we have to be realistic and accept that we have got a bit of a mountain to climb. However, to give some sort of context to that, and without sounding like a broken record, by half past 5 on Saturday we’ll have played all of the top 9 sides in the league, and by anybody’s standards that’s a bloody tough start to any season.
“The difficulties have also been compounded by the large distances we’ve had to travel. We’ve been down to Ealing, Esher and Blackheath, not to mention Darlington. The upside to that I suppose is that in the second half of the season we’ll only need to make around 3 long away trips.”
“So yes we’ve had a tough start, and we’ve given ourselves a bit of a mountain to climb, but over the course of the next few weeks we have a series of games coming up from which I think we’ll be able to take points. Only after these games have been played will I be in a position to answer your original question with a bit more certainty.”
“ The other thing I would say, and this is no disrespect to the other teams, is that there are a number of sides in this league who do not want to go up, nor, I should I add, do they want to go down into National 2. They’re happy where they are. As a result of that we know from experience that once these teams have achieved their goal – that is a mid-table berth and league safety, they do tend to ease off and drop some results. Whilst we don’t want our future to be reliant on other team’s results, the fact is that is what some of the teams in the league will do. So it’s up to us to step up and take advantage of any opportunities we are given.”
So where do the team go from here then?
“Well, we know we’ve got some serious work to do. After a good showing against Coventry last week but one, at Blackheath we just weren’t good enough, especially in the second half of the game. That was very disappointing for me, but I don’t think one poor performance means we are likely to go down. I’ve lost count of the number of people spectators who speak to me at away games, not having a clue who I am, and say that we’re too good to go down; and that’s been reassuring. The fact is we’re not playing all that badly, but we’re just struggling to get over the line at the moment. With a bit of luck that situation will change.”
You said the Blackheath performance was disappointing, so what sort of reaction are you looking for from the players when they play Rosslyn Park?
“I said to the players at half time in the Blackheath game that the reason we were 8 nil down at half time was because we had been out-enthused. That is a factor I would like the team to address this weekend. We just need to be a little more proactive and play positive rugby. Last weekend we played in a reactive way, and that sort of rugby won’t win matches. Never the less, we also have to be realistic and accept that we’ll be coming up against a quality side who have their eyes firmly set on promotion to the Championship. So we have to set ourselves a series of smaller targets in the game if we are to get anything out of it. The one thing you can say about Rosslyn Park is that, as good as they are going forward, they do concede tries, so that could play into our hands. But to take advantage of that we’ll have to play with a level of enthusiasm that was missing last Saturday.”