Confessions of a Rugby Amateur

Confessions of a Rugby Amateur

Saturday, 19 March 2011

The Season (2010/11): Part 2

In November and December, the league games froze with weather and we didn’t play again until January. An away trip to Staines isnt exactly how many of us wanted to open the New Year. Staines are competing with Ampthill to be the biggest and ugliest team in the league! We matched them blow for blow in the first half and were within touching distance with 60 minutes gone. However, we just couldnt counter the relentless onslaught of muscled monsters and they ran in a few late tries to flatter the scoreline.

We picked ourselves up and secured two wins in a row, doing the double over Civil Service and Basingstoke. I feel I must mention the fantastic facilities at Basingstoke. The pitch was by far the best I ve ever played on and had a neat little stand, electric scoreboard, the works. We felt like royaltyor at least a real team!

A home loss to high flying Barnes and an extremely disappointing result away at Bracknell meant we were still languishing worryingly close to the relegation zone. And then came the lowest point of the season, and possibly my playing career (injuries not included). A home fixture against fellow strugglers North Walsham was a game we had targeted as a must win on our march to escape the drop. 18-0 up at half time after a commanding performance seemed to signal that we had it in the bag. However, with the foot well and truly off the gas, North Walsham slotted a penalty with the last kick of the game for a 20-18 win.

I have never felt so low after a game of Rugby before. People are quick to belittle me with a patronising its just a game’ comment. But once youve spent every last ounce of energy, poured every last drop of passion, plus youve trained twice a week and know that a couple of hundred people have given up the best part of their weekend to watch you throw away a game to a team everyone knows we should beatwell its frustrating to say the least! There is nothing more emotionally draining than knowing youve given everything and got nothing in return. To know that you snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with a couple of stupid mistakes.

 On a positive note, there is no team better at picking themselves up than Tring. The whole squad faced some home truths that week - no one wanted to ever feel like that again. The training has intensified, a new-found steel in defence forged, a renewed fire and determination ignited in each player. We will need to produce something special to stay up now.

An excellent home win against Havant strengthened our belief but Ampthill would be the big test. Earlier in the season they had put 50 passed us and even though they had lost a few players, they were still riding high I the league. However, the game wasn’t much of a game at all - more of an 80 minute brawl. I have never known a team so focused on fighting that they werent particularly interested in the game. Three players sin-binned and one red card shows how ridiculously and almost comically ill-disciplined they were. We eventually lost the game 14-13, but a last minute try gave us a losing bonus point and considering the score last time around this felt very much like a win. We had withstood a genuine barrage of aggression and taken a point. Not many other teams can say the same this season.

The team could feel a momentum building which we carried into the next home game against Gravesend. Keen to avenge the earlier defeat in the season and knowing they were missing their influential captain, we were able to produce a confident and assued performance to guarantee a 16-10 win. Again, this proved that we can take points from the teams above us. We knew from the away trip that Gravesend base their game around off loads. Once we stepped up our defence and worked hard to cut off down their options, we were able to starve them of possession. The difference this week was that we kept our discipline and stuck to our simple gameplan. Needless to say the Akeman was rocking that evening!

Sevens guru Liam Chennells slots a penalty on his return to Tring

This takes us up to our latest game, another heated Hertfordshire derby against Bishops Stortford last Saturday (12 March). With only four games remaining and the snarling jaws of relegation still looming large, this was a must win game. The only problem being that Tring have never beaten Stortford at senior level…not too much pressure then!

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