The country is in a virtual lockdown and the Rugby Union has terminated all this season’s league and competition fixtures, below the Premiership, and with the Six Nations undecided as to how it will end.
The information coming through from headquarters at Twickenham is that the leagues stand as they are at present until a decision is made, mid-April re promotion/relegation. There are whispers from those close to HQ, that the Rugby Union may use this unprecedented opportunity to restructure the leagues. If this were to happen, it has been muted in the past that National 2 could be restructured into three regions North, Midlands and South. One could ask: “How does this affect Macclesfield, finishing 4th/5th in the tier below”. Well the fact of the matter is that Macclesfield had two home games in hand, and if both won, it would have put the Club in joint top position. Of course all of this is just speculation and all the leagues may just stay as they were at the cessation of rugby. If this is the case one has to feel sorry for clubs like Caldy that had already, mathematically achieved promotion.
On a very serious, note the current closure of Priory Park, the cessation of rugby, and all community events in the Clubhouse puts Macclesfield Rugby Club in a very serious financial situation. The Executive Committee has acted swiftly and on Monday launched a ‘CRISIS FUND APPEAL’. Without income coming into the Club, the only solution has been to appeal to members and the Club’s partners to help out financially. Chairman Stephen Branch and the Committee have come up with a number of initiatives for members to become involved in.
Back at the start of the season MRUFC Head Coach, Andy Appleyard, said that his objective this term was promotion back to National League 2. If the league fixtures had run their full course, with Blaydon RFC scheduled to play at Priory Park in the last match of the season, we could well have had a grandstand finish playing for promotion. It’s a disappointing end to the season, but there have been many positives. The Club has enjoyed large boisterous crowds of supporters, at all home games, with some nail-biting finishes. The coaching team must be particularly pleased with the continued progress of our four youngest players from last year’s Colts team. They have all stepped up and displayed consistent development, playing at a level that is a big jump from Junior Rugby. In their last match before the premature termination, James Oliver, Harry Harding, Harry Oliver and Will Davies all represented Cheshire U20 s against Northumberland in the Northern section of the Jason Leonard County Championship.
All the senior players have shown up well: Sam Stelmaszek won three international caps for Poland, the mercurial Myles Hall saved-the-bacon on several occasions (both home and away against Alnwick, which he’s probably hardly mentioned) and Captain Tom Morton will have been delighted with the team’s ability to graft out wins in difficult situations. This success is due in enormous part to our great team of coaches, Apps and his lieutenant Richard Jones and Matt Coleridge on the technical side. Noticeable all season has been the level of fitness displayed by the squad, playing flat-out for the full 80 minutes, when other teams have started to flag. With Priory Park and private gyms closed for the foreseeable future, maintaining fitness, for all players involved at the Club, becomes a real challenge. However U10s Coach, Tristan Wood and Andy Appleyard have come up with an online solution for everyone ‘keeping fit’ to be part of:
MRUFC MaccTive, is a Facebook group for members/players at all ages and levels to be part of. The aim is, with the help of Strength & Conditioning Coach, Jim Curtis of 5S Gym, to publish fitness routine videos during the week with a challenge every Sunday. The first challenge, demonstrated by, the young super-fit Full Back Will Davies, was a shuttle-run bleep test. Several hundred have already joined the group, another great example of getting around social distancing.
Second Team season update
The season started well with good wins at home to Sedgley Park and away at Blackburn. The squad was complimented with university students who had not gone back. Kings School old boys, Hamish Burke, Owen Jones, Tom Blackwell, Tom Higginson and Ben Tatton all finding their feet in senior rugby and whenever they return home are welcomed into the fold. The most promising sign is that when these boys disappeared in the middle of September a crop of 3rd XV members stepped into their boots comfortably. James Brocklehurst, Tom Leicester, Harry Grant and Harry King are now well established second teamers and the current run of form is credit to their growing experience. Thanks must go to Simon Grant who regularly pushes Pete Langley to pick players from his side to play deservedly in the 2s.
As is becoming somewhat a tradition for them a string of unfortunate results in the middle of the season has been rescued by a better run of form from December onwards. At this point the leadership trio of Sam Jones (captain) Jim Curtis (manager) and Pete Langley (coach) sat down and discussed how to attack the bad run of form. The decision was a good old fashioned coach journey to Fylde in the following fixture.
Missing Danny Kingston and Paul Davenport through injury we were a bit depleted (both players jumped on the bus for the afternoon, so don’t feel sorry for them). The result did not go our way and the score flattered Fylde. However the Christmas jumpers and the ale stop-off on the return seemed to mend morale. Then Rossendale fell to a mammoth effort from the squad at home. It was an astonishing game where the team were guided by the experienced fly half Giles Heatherington and consistent performer Peter Milne. Macc managed to hang on to an 8 point lead with 13 men and 10 minutes remaining. Undoubtedly, the improved morale led to the victory that day.
Since then the Second Team has lost only once to Lymm who are second in the division, this loss however did see us miss-out on Conference A. Along with Preston and Sedgley in Conference B, Macclesfield are in good company. The long term goal would have been to top the Conference and right some wrongs from earlier in the season. We’ve had some long term injuries but these have given Ben Holden, Sam Bankroft, Harry King, Ross Turner and James Board opportunities to demonstrate their ability and to develop into key performers for the side.
MRUFC Mini and Juniors update
Grass roots rugby is thriving at Macclesfield Rugby Club. Since 1971 the club has been involved in coaching young men, teaching them the finer arts of Rugby Union. With over 350 boys and girls from 5 to 18 years old, it’s an incredible sight to see on a Sunday morning.
As the game has evolved, so has the coaching, and long gone are the drills, 50 press ups, laps of pitches! It is (now) well known kids prefer playing games rather than doing training drills!
For our younger players, Macclesfield has adopted the Quilter Kids First Techniques, where we look to coach the whole player, through a guided pathway from tag towards Full Contact Rugby. Children are challenged, within games, to develop their skills, encourage others and adapt to a team environment.
Once the players reach under 14, they enter the world of Junior Rugby where the more technical aspects of the game are explored. The players themselves are empowered to work with the coaches exploring how to improve themselves and the team.
Over the last four years, Macclesfield RUFC has adopted a “one club” philosophy resulting in a player pathway from U6 through to Senior Rugby. This season, four of the 1st XV were last season’s senior colts. Other senior players like Sam Moss, Billy Robison, Frankie Barker – the list goes on, have come through the Mini and Junior section and of course, just occasionally one of the alumni will go on to greater things like Tommy Taylor Macclesfield, Sale Sharks, Wasps and England.
All players not only develop core rugby skills, they also develop as individuals. Through the core values of Rugby (Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportsmanship) players gain confidence, respect and self-discipline, turning the youngsters into well rounded individuals.
The section welcomes all players who would like to come along and try Rugby. Games or training is generally Sunday mornings, with some age grades offering mid-week training sessions (although at the moment it will be at home with MaccTive). Contact Phil Mason (Mini and Junior Chairman) firstname.lastname@example.org for details and to get started.