From The Dug Out
Middlesbrough 20th October 2018
Well today we entertain the team who I predicted would win the league this season, as you know I only took over the reins here last January and in that time Middlesbrough were the best team I saw by a country mile, I appreciate York and Scarborough got promoted and I did take a lot of criticism on the ‘Yorkshire forum’ for saying that, but I can only give an honest rugby view and in terms of pure rugby quality the Teesiders were streets apart from anyone else. Their favourite billing doesn’t appear to be holding them back this term either as they sit in second place as we speak, their only blemish was a surprising defeat at the hands at Old Crossleyans in Halifax in September. So this is a mouth-watering prospect for our young team as they attempt to stamp their mark on the league this term.
Since my last programme notes we have enjoyed two back to back narrow victories, firstly at home to a much improved Hullensians team (Thanks in no part to an influx from Ionians and Hull) and last week we earned a very creditable 4 point win away on the 4G pitch at Keighley. Our second half performance and our overall defensive effort gave us a worthy victory, its never easy winning away in Yorkshire One and to win at a ground where the home team obviously have an advantage through their knowledge of the surface was very rewarding. Particularly in the second half I thought we gave the opposition a lesson in how to turn possession to point and how to execute when presented with opportunities, something the hosts failed to do in the first 40 minutes.
Last week we suffered from 3 head injuries, two of our players (captain Cic and Harry Cruise collided heads) and are out today through the head injury protocol, Harry may have to take a longer period out of the game because of the number of head knocks he has taken in the last 12 months. We take these things very seriously, rugby is important but so is the welfare of the player and in line with RFU regulations our physio Halley Brady has a detailed report of every players injuries so she can make considered opinions based on facts. Medical advice drives selection at Selby and I hope it does these days at most clubs, the days of a player saying “I think I’m ok” should be well in the past. On the positive side we should have 4 players who were unavailable last week re-joining the group for today’s game.
Yorkshire One this year is proving to be a very competitive league as Hullensians beating Beverley last week is testament to this view, in the early weeks our guests today are chasing Crossleyans for top spot, but the money men at Moortown are pressing hard and last weeks defeat might just inspire Beverley to get back on track. As for ourselves were sat in 9th but maybe 6th or 7th is more of a true reflection of our season to date. One thing is for sure we will surprise teams this year and I hope it starts today.
We have actually drawn our opponents today away from home in the Yorkshire Shield in a few weeks’ time and there was a discussion between the two coaches of making todays game a ‘double header’ with Middlesbrough effectively forgiving home advantage but in the end this hasn’t happened for one reason or another, so we will be heading to Acklam on the 10th November.
Our youth system continues to develop players at a pace and I have been pleased to be able to give first team debuts to Olly Turver, Olly Raynor, Edward Kelly and Eddie Brown over the last few weeks all of whom are studying at various locations and only available infrequently. We are working really hard on the transition of our players from colts to adult rugby and a big part of this process is first of all knowing where every boy is, when they are available and also working with Academies and Universities as a partnership for the good of the player so they are able to balance the amount of game time and training within specific laid down guidelines.
Today will see the home debut of Sam Phipps who is fitting into life at Selby very well. Thank you to our president and his wife Diana for providing him with a home and to Adina Developments for providing him with work. Sam is here on a two-year visa and based on his personality and impact so far we very much hope he spends the whole time at Sandhill Lane. As a rugby player I’ll let you decide, but all I will say he is a typical Kiwi forward, for those of you that remember Karim Brown, well just add, bigger, more powerful. Welcome Sam and enjoy your home debut
Finally it was very interesting watching last weeks game on the 4G pitch, I’m not so sure where I stand on them, there are certain clubs where there is no doubt there is a major benefit due to their poor playing surface and having spoken to the committee at Keighley last week this was one of their key drivers for sure. I also understand that Yarnbury (thank god everyone says) and Old Brodleians are also investing in one but £700,000 is an awful lot of money. Then from a playing perspective there are arguments on both sides of the scale. On the positives, the game is more expansive, its faster, it quickens up the ruck area, the ball is never really wet or muddy and it definitely changes the team’s style of play (just look at Newcastle Falcons three years ago and how they play now). Then on the downside I had players with really bad burns on their knees and legs, the ball can bounce in different directions to what is does on grass, it can actually provide backspin and at scrum time if you are dominant and get a team moving backwards their studs don’t slide in the grass and they have more time to repurchase their footing. Anyway, you will all have an opinion but one thing is for sure its grass at Sandhill Lane and with such a beautiful playing surface why should we change, I bet Middlesbrough are considering one though!!!!
Enjoy the game today, I’m two points behind on my little purple book and could do with them back
Yours in rugby