First to set the scene for this Blog post …
I’m sure many amateur coaches/players will be able to relate in some way to my current situation:
I am head Coach for a 2nd team in the NW Championship so it’s a fairly good standard of amateur rugby. Our first team got promoted to National 3 last year and they have not won many games in that league so far this season, which has made this a difficult year at our small-town club.
Our 3rd team folded early in the season and I have a real battle on my hands to get a squad out each week for the 2’s, In fact, we jokingly call ourselves the BaBa’s because we have terrible numbers at training and I have a completely different looking side every week who have to wing it in games.
Yet, despite that, we are currently sitting in 4th place in the Championship. That’s because I have some very talented rugby players amongst the 80 or so people I have to beg, borrow and steel each week.
And that is a huge source of frustration for me because I know something that many of them don’t…
I was recently asked to go to a place in my head where I felt most happy in my life and after a very short time I picked my happiest moment.
Now for most people that may well be the day their first child was born, or when they tied the knot with their Mrs or when they first got arm pit hair! But for me it was the final whistle blowing in a cup game and realising that the best team mates I ever played with had just done the unthinkable and won a huge trophy against opposition we had no right to be on the same pitch as, never mind beat.
The unbridled joy and pride I felt at that moment in myself and my team mates and what we had just achieved will stay with me forever and will always be a huge source of comfort when things get tough.
We were a group of good players but we had no superstars, well maybe just one, but what we lacked in talent, we more than made up for in camaraderie. We were as close off the pitch as we were on it and we were prepared to run through brick walls for each other. We had a consistent team each week and a DNA which was “our way” of playing and we trained religiously together to perfect our style of play which helped us to punch way above our weight as a collective.
So when we ended up in a cup final against a semi-professional team 3 leagues above us and full of superstars we were nervous as hell but had a quiet confidence about us. Needless to say we gave everything we had for each other and we frustrated the superstars so much with our dogged determination that they started to lose their discipline, they were clearly the better athletes and had far superior skills but we were the better team and at the end of the day that’s what won the day, beating them 3 tries to 1 with them ending the game with just 12 men on the pitch.
The way I felt when the final whistle blew is the happiest I’ve ever been, I was so proud of my team mates and the night we had celebrating that success will go down in West London legend, to this day, 20 years on, we still meet up occasionally to tell the tales which never get old as we all remember fondly one of the happiest moments of our lives.
So that’s what I feel my current team are missing out on, they have all the potential in the world but unless they come together as a team and commit to each other they will never give themselves the opportunity I had to create the happiest moment of my life and that’s a massive shame. I desperately want them to create a lifelong memory that can do for them what my memory does for me and create a bond with 17 other men that will last forever. But I can only encourage it, the rest is up to them.