MACCLESFIELD TOP THE TABLE
Saturday 1st February proved to be one of Macclesfield’s most successful days at Priory Park. It started with the first ever ‘President’s Lunch’; President Peter Harper welcomed 150 guests for lunch, including numerous past Presidents as well as sponsors and Manchester City and England legend Joe Corrigan. Highlight of the lunch was Lions’ and dual international rugby legend John Bentley. Bentos, as he is known, entertained the guests with his tales from: ‘Living with the Lions’, the Irish and British Lions successful tour of South Africa in 1997. The guests showed their appreciation by giving generously during the fundraising activities. What was to follow lived up to its billing.
A very large crowd turned up at Priory Park to support Macclesfield in their challenge for the championship of the North Premier league. With the gale behind them the ‘Macclesfield Faithful’ did not have long to wait for their “Whaa-Hoo” chorus as Macc took an early lead; if it were not for a few fumbles Macclesfield could have been 3 tries up in the first 10 minutes. The importance of this contest was evident in the ferocity that the game was played in; no quarter was given at any stage. Whilst Macclesfield didn’t have it all their own way, they were too strong for the league leaders, in every part of the game. It was a confident and complete performance running out comfortable winners 35 – 14. As Blaydon kicked off early in their win at Billingham, the team were greeted with the news that they now topped the table as the final whistle blew. With John Bentley back on the microphone to award MOTM to Josh Redfern, the Clubhouse rocked until late into the evening.
Next week the 1sts travel to Carlise, the 2nd team are back in action at home against Birkenhead Park, the third team take on Glossop away and the 4ths are also away to Ashton under Lyne.
After a month in the Antipodes, Clubman brings some news about different laws of rugby on trial in Australia. The influence of rugby league there is very strong than in Europe, there the game enjoys as much more popularity than rugby union, and Rugby Australia has lifted a straight-steal from the 13 man code. Administrators the world over are concerned that in our game the ball is in play for only 35 minutes out of the full 80, whereas league enjoys 65 minutes.
The trialled law was to award a drop-out on the goal line, rather than a five metre scrum when an attacking player is held up over the try line. The claim being that it not only rewards good defending but also punishes poor attack. Teams that relied on pick up and go drives were most likely to be held up over the try line. The object is to encourage teams to move the ball more, to create a one-on-one situation where a hold-up is less likely, thus providing more fluidity and passing rugby for the players and spectators alike to enjoy.
The other benefit is putting the ball back in play quicker; a drop-out takes only 35 seconds after the try saving tackle whereas setting a scrum uses up 3 minutes. Rugby Australia’s DOR Scott Johnson will take his evidence to persuade World Rugby to adopt this law as a normal basis at a law review session in London later this month.
Next we’ve heard that Lancashire lad Bill Beaumont is running for another 4 years as Chair of World Rugby. He’s airing a view that substitutes should only be used when the retiring player is actually injured. His contention is that big heavy forwards are only playing for 50 minutes; these huge men make massive hits when tackling or are so strong and powerful as ball carriers that more injuries and concussions accrue.
Billy’s view has a lot of credibility, but how can officials police whether a player has torn a hamstring or is merely feigning – we all remember the infamous Harlequins Blood-gate saga from 10 years ago. This may work at international level but it’s unlikely to go down well at club level with subs not getting a run-out!
Mighty fourth team match onwards.
Macclesfield 4th XV 50 Ashton on Mersey 1st XV 12
The fourth team bandwagon trundles on remorselessly into 2nd place in the league. 2020 has witnessed the fourth team winning all five games by considerable margins.
The day did not have a good start, we learned of the sad news of the passing away of Claire Smith, wife of stalwart member Nick. Claire was a modern languages teacher at Fallibroome School, where she was held in enormous esteem by her students and everyone at the school who knew her. She was respected for her empathetic approach and encouraging teaching methods. She was a frequent visitor to Priory Park and her vivacious personality always made her a welcome supporter of her husband’s team. Claire had courageously faced up to her illness and fought hard for 18 months, since the tumour was first discovered. Within the brotherhood of the team we are all deeply sympathetic with the Smith family and send our love, respect and affection to them.
It was as if the whole side felt as if they were playing to dedicate a near perfect performance towards Nick (a touchline supporter on the day), to show how we all could raise our game as a tribute to Claire. This was actually an enormous win, Ashton arrived with the reputation of being a strong, versatile, aggressive team who had terrorised others in this division. Macclesfield closed them down completely and were masters in every department, right from the first whistle.
The home side scored 8 tries, the first by the excellent Keiran Merriman which opened the flood gates, quickly to be followed by both wingers Jordan Wilson and our youngest player Tom Whylie; scoring tries from both wings is a mark of a very good side.
In the second half our massive lock Jack Nicholson helped himself to a brace of tries; he’s now top try scorer with an aggregate of 16 this season, this from a lock forward is amazing. Then late scores by Keey, Streety and Rob McLeod demolished the visitors whilst Ryan Brown added five conversions.
The fourth team has an enormous pack of forwards, Jason Walker, Jim Welch, Troy Croaker and Louis Smith, then Jeremy Bostock, Mad Dog and the smaller but astute Manny all intimidating ball carriers. Paul Smith, Brad Atherton and Matt Humphreys played with added sagacity to their speed and ball playing.
In the post-match huddle Captain Bostock reminded them that whilst these wins were moving them up the league into 2nd position, his main focus was success in the cup. Everyone is now determined to bring some silverware home in 2020.