After another postponement at the weekend, Macclesfield Blues are understandably desperate to get back on the park and play. Whilst intensive training may be fine, it’s no substitute for competitive rugby. The Blues are hopeful that this weekend’s game against Luctonians will still go ahead, though at the moment Priory Park is under water. Fingers crossed the weather Gods will look favourable upon the Blues, otherwise the season could well go on into May, and nobody really wants that.
So how are the boys bearing up? How are the Blues coping with the enforced layoffs? Are all the players fit and raring to go? The person with all the answers is Head Coach, Giles Heagerty. Here’s what he had to say.
Are the postponements affecting team morale?
“Well, as you can imagine we’re all very frustrated by events. I’m particular cheesed off by last weekend’s events, because there was no way Otley’s pitch was ever going to be fit to play on last Saturday, yet we were still dragged all the way up there. Generally, the overall feeling is one of frustration and annoyance. We’ve spoken many times about the fickle mistress that is momentum and its importance for the team. We’ve managed to build that, and we played well against Caldy and got 5 points against Tynedale, then our plans were derailed yet again by the weather.”
“As a team all you really want to do is keep playing. Not only in terms of maintaining momentum, but also in terms of avoiding congestion at the end of the season. Nobody really wants the season to stretch into May: it’s long and arduous enough as it is. If there is a positive to take out of the whole sorry affair, it’s that it does give you the opportunity to get everybody fresh. A couple of lads took knocks and bumps over the last few weeks, so the enforced layoff has given us the opportunity to keep them out of the firing line. The flipside of that particular coin is that we’ve also not had a chance to look at some of the boys like Billy Robinson and Ben Jones who’ve been playing really well for the Twos.”
Does enforced rest in any way compensate for a loss of match fitness?
“I’m not sure that is does really. It’s inevitable that you will lose some sharpness if you’re not playing competitively. However, we always aim to recreate as close to match conditions as we can in the practices we run. You’ll never get true match sharpness with playing rugby competitively, but I wouldn’t say I’m overly concerned about it, unless our enforced layoff lasts any longer.”
Do you know when the rearranged fixtures will be played?
“We know that we’ve got a game on 27th February against Broadstreet, and we’ll be playing Preston away on the 12th March. Both of these were weather weekends, so they were easier games to accommodate. We also now know that last week’s postponed game against Otley is going to be played on Easter Saturday, when we should’ve been playing the Cheshire Cup Final. That game will get pushed back, and the rest really depends on what happens this weekend. Had we had a home game last weekend we couldn’t have played because Priory Park was under water. That means we’re going to have to stay off the pitch all week in training and hope for the best. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and let us play. If it doesn’t, then we could be in real trouble.”
Luctonians have suffered even more than the Blues with fixture postponements: do you think this will have a knock on effect on their game?
“It’s hard to say really. They’re a difficult team to fathom. When we went down there and won, it was pretty obvious that they had a set game plan which they executed well. They didn’t want the ball, and kicked it back to us every time they got possession because they thought their defence was good enough to cope with anything we threw at it. It will be interesting to see what they do this weekend, because they’ve managed to nick a couple of results. Those victories have eased their plight at the bottom of the table a little. It’s getting very tight down there, and they know that another couple of wins will lift them clear of the relegation threat and give them some breathing space.”
“We’re certainly expecting Luctonians to come here and compete. Why wouldn’t they? We’re just not sure how they’re going to approach the game. Any way to some extent that’s academic, as there are never any easy games as I’ve said many times before. What I would say is that both sides would probably prefer to play on a dry track. Both teams like to play rugby. So if we can manage to get the water off the pitch and get the game on, I think the supporters can definitely expect a decent match.”