Super Series 1 2016/17 - Write Up
This past weekend 3rd/4th December, the GBWR Super Series tipped off for Division 1 at the new venue Leicester Arena. First of all, great venue, very spacious with a decent cafe and easy wheelchair access, defiantly hope to return. Now to the competition itself.
LondonWRC have two teams in the top division and during competition I coach Crusaders, our first game was against our brothers of Storm. We train together twice a week so it was interesting to see the individuals compete together as two teams. Storm have our current GB Elite on their roster including Captain Chris Ryan, who's attention to detail is something I hope to replicate. It was good to have our first match against such familiar faces. The pressure was reduced as I know what this team are capable off, also knowing their names, classification and playing style certainly boosted my confidence.
For Crusaders our main objective for this weekend was to spread court time and gain experience competing as a team. This first game against Storm allowed me to focus on that, using our line ups, subs and putting tactics into motion. The result of this game was clear after the first quarter, the flow of Storm was too quick for us. Without a 3 or 3.5 player they relied on moving the ball quick by accurate passing.
Also getting the ball to their speedy 2.5's Mandip Sehmi and talent transfer Josh Williams. They raced ahead and the victory was theirs.
We knew this weekend was going to be a tough for us and this was the start of it. But I'm proud to say all the LondonWRC players from both Storm and Crusaders pushed hard. We got all players on court and stayed positive until the final buzzer, something I wanted to continue.
Second game and we faced the Marauders. We had a slight sign of victory but it was clear they're a well gelled team. They pulled a four point lead and we just couldn't close it. With the final scores of 50-46 it was a good game of rugby and they pushed us to the end. Our third pool match and it was against the Gaelic Warriors. I've got experience of how hard these warriors hit, I'll never forget when Alan Lynch snapped my spindle some years back. This time it was our Kylie Grimes who received an awesome hit from Thomas Moylan. Tipped her out and snapped her side guard. When a legal hit like that happens, all you can do it sit back and praise the athlete who made it. This hard hitting ferocity runs through their team, they each give one hundred in every play and still work as a team. At the final buzzer they'd dominated us with over a twenty point lead.
So after the first day we were 0 for three, our Crusaders had to keep their chins up and stay positive. I feel as coach it's my job to make sure that happens. I could feel the pressure increasing so reminded myself of what this weekend was all about. Competition court-time and team building.
The Sunday morning and it was porridge for breakfast, not to be healthy, saved a bit of time is all. Our crossover game was scheduled first and we were up against Leicester Tigers. Looking at their roster I recognised a couple of potential threats. Those of GB Elite athlete Jamie Stead and GB Dev athlete Nick Cummins, this combo proved to be a tough challenge. Both teams dug deep, Crusaders fought tooth and nail but the Tigers were sharper and we lost by another narrow margin of four.
Onto our next game and our last chance for a victory, we played for 7th/8th against The Bulls. Illness struck one of their more experienced players but they did have a mountain of a man in Ryan Dicken, a tall high functioning four pointer. It was a close match all the way, I'd say we had the pace but their low pointers seemed to be everywhere at once. It come down to who had a better flow and we lost ours in the last couple of minutes, so another narrow loss.
Victory evaded us all weekend and we finished 8th last position but I like to look at the positives. From a team perspective, everyone got decent court-time and some much needed time competing as a team. From a coaching perspective, this weekend was an eye opener for me. Watching rather than spectating the game defiantly helped me see what we need to improve on. Lastly, a personal perspective, I had an awesome weekend. I got to do what I love, coach a sport I love and spend time with my sporting family. I'm so proud of the Crusaders for keeping their heads high and pushing hard. I'm also proud for Storm, with almost an iron man line up they had to dig deep all weekend, this attribute, amongst others, earned them third overall. Well played Storm!
I'd like to congratulate the Gaelic Warriors on their well earned 1st Place. Also well done to our Storm's Chris Ryan and Mandip Sehmi for winning best in class. A massive thank you to Leicester Arena for your hospitality. Thank you to all LondonWRC's support staff for all your help throughout the weekend. Last but not least, thank you to GBWR for tipping off another fantastic Super Series season, we'll see you for the second!