Macclesfield Blues may have ended the season with another loss, but at least they finished the season with a bang and not a whimper. They looked keen and eager to carry on, and that fact alone provided all the encouragement Head Coach, Giles Heagerty, needed. He and the team both know that now is not the time for licking wounds; now is the time for dusting themselves down and preparing for the new challenges which await in National League 2 North. Here’s is Giles’ assessment of the year.
What lessons have you learned from this season?
“The biggest lesson I’ve learned during this disappointing season is that time doesn’t stand still. The standards in National League 1 have moved on hugely from when we last played there. We mistakenly believed going into the season that we would be in a position to deal with that, but it became clear quite early on that we simply weren’t. The bottom line is that we weren’t as prepared as we could’ve been, so that’s a lesson we take too.”
“From a personal point of view the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that if you have firm ideas and principles, then it’s best to stick to those. It would’ve been very easy to throw the baby out with the bath water when things started to unravel at the very beginning of the year; but actually by sticking to my beliefs in how the game should be played I think we’ve really come on as a group. Yes there are obviously areas that we definitely still need to address, but if you’d seen the 41 points we scored last weekend, there’s no doubt in my mind that we wouldn’t have scored them at the start of the season playing the style of rugby we used to play.”
Do you still think you made the right call in changing the style of rugby at the same time as stepping up a gear in class?
“Yes, I still think it was the right call. Obviously you could argue that when we got relegated last time we had won significantly more games than we have this year, but change is always going to be painful. It was my belief at the time of relegation that we needed to make those changes, and I would like to think that everyone would agree that the changes have been positive in terms of the way we play the game.”
“As painful as it has been, at least we’re now in the position where we can flex between two different styles of rugby. I’m not claiming for one moment that we’re the finished article: far from it. We’ve got to sort our defence out. That’s crucial I think. Yes we’ve accumulated a massive points’ difference this season – 700 points or so, but let’s be clear, most of those points have come as a result of poor decision making. That’s something we should be able to address.”
“ We needed to make the changes, and we knew that the changes we had to make would be painful, so you just have to stand up and accept that sometimes it’s best to just lance the boil. The good thing is that we’ve done that now. We don’t have to go back to the drawing board. We’ve got a really good foundation we can build on for next season, and that’s boosted by the fact that we’ll only be losing two players. We’ve had a high turnover of players this season, and have only been able to pick the same team four times. I’m not using that as an excuse, but the point I’m trying to make is that hopefully next season we should be in a much better position to pick our team consistently and that should lead to more consistent performances.”
Do the performances in the last few games this season give you confidence for next season’s campaign?
“Yes, of course it does, but I was full of confidence going into this season’s competition too! We know what we need to do, and we know what weaknesses we need to address. If we can do that we should be in a good position to push ourselves next season. Where we’ll end up? Who Knows? But I know where I want us to be, and I know where the playing group want us to be, and fortunately they’re the same place.”
“In order to achieve that, we’re all going to have to work really hard. I’ve pushed the boys in the last few weeks to go out there and play to the standards they know they’re capable of. What we now all have to do is continue to keep pushing ourselves even further. We have the squad to be able to compete at the top end of National 2 North, but make no mistake about it keeping that push going over the course of a full season is both mentally and physically draining. What I find particularly encouraging is that we’re all disappointed that the season’s finished. We all feel in the mood to kick on and improve, and frankly we can’t wait for the season to start again so we can put right what went wrong. I think that tells you everything you need to know.”
It might be a little early to be thinking about the Blues squad for next season’s campaign, but Macclesfield Rugby has some good news that we couldn’t wait to share with our supporters.
Joining the squad for next season’s National League 2 North campaign will be Marshall Gadd and Ryan Parkinson.
Prop forward Marshall joined the Blues on loan from Rotherham earlier last season, but we’re pleased to announce that Marshall has now made the switch permanently. During his time at the Club Marshall made a valuable contribution both on and off the field, and we’re sure he’ll do a fine job for us next season.
Macclesfield Blues stalwart, Ryan Parkinson, will return to the squad next season following a year at Sedgley Park. The seasoned back row forward is an old favourite down at Priory Park, and we’re sure the supporters will be delighted to see him turning out for the team once more.