Hello everyone and may I say, compliments of the season to you all and especially to the ‘Muffits’ who will be enjoying their annual Xmas lunch. It is always a pleasure to be around the Club after this lunch, I sincerely hope you enjoy your day and please take a minute to reflect on the members of your group who we have lost this year or those that are no longer with us.
It’s a short while since I gave you all an update but as this is the last game before the half term break it gives us the perfect opportunity to reflect.
How time flies…….the club was 85 years old this week (11th December) and it certainly doesn’t seem like 10 years since I had the pleasure of introducing all our past Captains and Presidents on the pitch before our 75th Anniversary game, we continue to flourish as a community rugby club, if we look back on our achievements over the past 10 years, there are many. From a rugby perspective we have other than the odd season remained in Yorkshire one for the entire period, a tough league, although the last three years has been by the skin of our teeth, we won Yorkshire Two at a canter and the RFU Vase at Twickenham but maybe our biggest achievement is the improvements to our facilities which has seen new changing rooms, a new stand and a complete new clubhouse redesign as well as ensuring our finances are in a healthy shape for years to come. We promote rugby through our superb youth set up with boys and girls playing from under 5, right through to two colts teams and latterly the introduction of three girls teams. It is our intention to have a Ladies senior team in the not too distant future. So whilst us ‘Yorkshiremen’ like to moan and groan a little there is no denying Selby Rugby Club is in good hands, we are making significant progress and whilst this may not be reflected in a higher league position, unlike some of our opponents in this league and the one above, we choose to remain a 100% amateur based community club who will try through a good coaching infrastructure develop our ’home grown’ players.
After today’s game it is one calendar year since I was asked to come out of ‘retirement’ and take over the helm, at the time, 5th January 2018 we had 9 points from 13 league games, we were bottom of the league and going nowhere quickly. We finished last season 4th bottom, on 38 points, so we achieved 19 points in the second half of last year’s campaign by targeting key matches, in my view the win over our opponents today at Sandhill lane was the single reason we stayed up and I am pleased to say we over delivered on our objectives and as a result secured our Yorkshire One status.
So this season we set about trying to predict where we would be at Christmas after 13 games and I had us down for 26 point, as we sit today we have achieved 21. In truth we have been a much better team at times than 21 points. We have blown two away away wins at Dinnington and Beverley (6 points lost in total); we were poor at home to Rishworthians only securing a losing bonus point, a game we should have won (3 additional points); and should have had a losing bonus point at Pontefract (One point). So we should really be sat on 31 points before today’s game…… All if’s, but’s and maybe’s I know…
So………..40 points in total during the Calendar year, going into todays game against a very strong Heath side, that will be just about enough to be 10th again but I have hopes we can improve on this and one of my Xmas tasks is to map out and target our points in the second half of the season.
If I reflect on the reasons why were at 21 points and not 31 I can put this down to three major factors. First of all were a young team, we make wrong decisions, we are not clinical enough at times, we can get over powered and for some reason we are reluctant to play to the game plan. We have many strengths as a team, some exciting, technically competent, fit and powerful individual players but one of our challenges as a coaching team in the second half of the season is to harness these strengths.
The other contributory factor is our discipline……. Put simply we give too many yellow cards away, we have had two red cards, we give away too many stupid penalties at crucial stages of the game and we force play when the simple thing is the right thing to do…… This has cost us, against Crossleyans for instance, the scores were a level other than a yellow card where they scored 14 points in the 10 minute period… We are working on this on the training ground.
Finally, rugby is a physical sport, you expect injuries but the extent of our long-term injury list has been massive. I am a believer that ‘the team on show is the team’ but at times we have been missing up to 8 first team regulars. Messrs Webster, Kehoe, Leetham, Phipps, Hardy, Cicero, Wood and Hunt have all had long periods on the side-lines and this has stretched our resources to the maximum. At this stage I would like to particularly thank Hayley Brady our Physio for her excellent work and to Mike Parsonage and Duncan Phillips the second team managers who have been hit the hardest.
I am pleased to say there is light at the end of the tunnel…… Scott Hunt has now been back a couple of weeks, Andy Kehoe made his reintroduction last week and the New Year should see Alex Webster, Matty Wood, Sam Phipps, Adam Leetham and Duncan Hardy all returning. Our captain, Charlie Cicero, is under assessment but obviously we will be without Liam Hogan and Tom Edwards due to suspension but our University boys have been helping and a special mention to Eddie Brown who has been superb. I am also pleased to say Shaun Crouch another one of our home developed boys will join us in January, he will be joining the group for a few weeks to gain some valuable game time on his return from injury whilst studying al Leeds Becket.
On a positive though and I have said this privately to my friends, if this group stay together, with the quality we have coming through our Colts system and one or two returning Selby players, I can see a very healthy future for this set of lads. I certainly think they will be challenging at the top half of the table next season and who knows beyond that…….. one thing is for sure they will be good enough…
Team spirit is good, the lads train well, are a united bond and even meet socially once a month for a meal on Wednesday evening.
Enjoy the game today, and may I wish you and your families a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous 2019
Yours in rugby