HERE COMES THE RAIN…
I think I can speak for a majority of, if not all, rugby players up and down the country, when I say that this time of year is when we start to question our chosen career. The sight of vests, shorts and ankle socks are long gone and replaced with waterproof tops, tracksuit bottoms and beanies. This week we had our first monsoon during training and it wasn’t pleasant. There we were warming up when suddenly the heavens opened. I have never seen our squad run so fast, as we all headed for the cover of the changing rooms while it passed. We were hoping, and by we I mean Jon Mills, who proceeded to get out of his kit, that the session was going to be cancelled. Wow we were foolish!!! We were called back out and slowly trudged, already cold, wet and miserable!!
This is how it is going to be for the upcoming months and it is going to change the way games are played. Fans won’t be seeing the free flowing rugby, full of wide miss passes, out the back offloads and quick line outs, which have been a huge talking point, and massive improvement to the quality of the Premiership to date. It will now be a period for the traditionalists. With scores of 9-6, or maybe even 3-0 being witnessed. The set piece will be more important than ever. With lineout, scrum and driving mauls being the reason for a team’s success.
It is times like this, more so than ever, that I am so glad that I’m not 6ft 5, 120kg and having to pack down in the scrum. I have a lot of respect for the 8 men that take the field every week, even every day at training and have to take a beating. The places they put their bodies on a pitch are not for the faint hearted. I’m happy that I am at 94kg, out in the backline waiting to try and run some flash moved thought up in the warmth of the meeting room. When, during training we are doing kicking practice or practising our strike moves of set piece and we look over to see the forwards practising driving mauls or pick and go’s, it makes you appreciate the work they do to supply us with the ball and chances we need in games to score.
With the Autumn internationals upon us this is one of two extremely interesting periods of the season. With teams missing their players selected to represent their countries it provides a different challenge for all teams. It is a time that we as a club are targeting. We are, as I stated in my last blog, under no illusions of the grandeur of the challenge that has been laid in front of us. With teams not at full strength it’s a window in which we can really look to maybe pick up points we would otherwise be written off to gain. With Sale picking up their first win of the season a few weeks ago, it was huge that we got another win and our performance against Bath, although not very pretty, it showed again that we are growing and moving in the right direction. We didn’t concede a try for the first time this season and that is essential if you want to win games.
With regards to England and their 4 match series, it is key in my opinion that we look at the bigger picture. Obviously as a nation we want them to be winning every game and challenging for the Number 1 ranked team in the world, but it is surely more important that we get a structure in place and a group of players together that can challenge not only now, but for the foreseeable future. With the huge array of young talent that this country is lucky enough to have, I think it is looking positive for England, and as long as we get behind them I think we can expect a lot to come from this current group of players.
Photographs courtesy of Getty Images.