If you want to finish off a season in style, then do it with a bang in front of your home crowd. After the defeat at Heywood Road, Head Coach, Giles Heagerty, had asked for a response from the team. At Priory Park last weekend Macclesfield Blues delivered on that securing a deserved bonus point victory over fourth place Stourbridge. So, what did Giles think of the performance? Here are his thoughts on the game.
You asked for an improved performance after the defeat at Sale FC, was the victory over Stourbridge exactly what you were looking for?
“I was very pleased indeed with that performance. We played some of the best rugby we’d played all year and that pleased me no end. We said as a group once we’d won the league we could take the shackles off and put in a performance like that because the pressure was off. On Saturday I think you saw exactly that. It was probably our best defensive display of the year, and some of our attacking and turnover play was ruthless. So overall I was very pleased indeed and saw it as a fitting end to what’s been a very good season.”
You say ‘fitting end’, can you confirm that the postponed game against Harrogate that was due to be played on 14th May has now been cancelled?
“Yes I can: the game has now been cancelled. It was due to be played on the 14th May, but both Clubs have other commitments. A number of our players have commitments with Cheshire. Harrogate are playing Sedgley this coming weekend, then have commitments in the Yorkshire County Cup as well as player commitments for players representing Yorkshire in their County Championship programme as well.”
“For both teams in terms of league position the game was something of a dead rubber, so when we were approached by Harrogate and asked if we would be amenable to cancelling the game, we had no problem agreeing. We had a number of conversations a couple of weeks ago with the national association and the RFU and the decision was made. So as far as we’re now concerned the season is over.”
Is there precedent for that sort of thing?
“Yes there is precedent, but I can’t say it’s something I’ve ever been involved in before. It certainly happens after fixture cancellations due to the weather. When you reach the back end of the season the programme can become far too congested, so there has to be a decision taken in terms of player welfare: and at the end of the day that was our biggest concern. Our players have had a very busy and draining season what with the League, Cheshire and England Counties, so as far as I’m concerned their season has been long enough.”
When will the squad reconvene for next season’s National League 1 campaign?
“We’ll probably get back together in the last week of June; more for meetings than anything else. Pre-season training will then start properly in the first week of July. That means most of the boys will get a decent couple of months off, and it’s no more than they deserve. They need to recharge physically and mentally as it’s been a long, hard season.”
“The same applies to the coaching staff, though we’ve obviously got a few things to tidy up: we’ve got some recruitment issues that we need to tie up in the next week or so, and some sponsors’ commitments that we need to see through. After that we, too, can put our feet up and spend some time with the family; and I have to say I’m looking forward to it.”