Tomorrow Paton Field has a double header with the 2nd xv playing old rivals Preston…
After 16 matches in the competitive Cotton Traders Premier League in the Halbro North West competition, Caldy’s 2nd xv has completed the remarkable feat of winning each and every game with a 4 try bonus point. The Cotton Traders Premier League which contains the development sides of the top rugby clubs in the North West, is the pinnacle of the nationally acclaimed Halbro North West Leagues.
The stunning achievement of a perfect league season has been hard won and ebullient forwards’ coach Christian Jones sat down for an interview after the final game of the regular league season against Fylde.
How tough has this perfect record been to achieve?
“There are a lot of very good teams in the Premier League like Lymm, Fylde Hawks, Sedgley Park and Macclesfield and every game is hard fought and competitive.”
“We have been pushed very close quite a few times this season, which is important for the development of the squad. The fundamental aim is to prepare the squad for the step up into National League rugby with the 1st xv”
“We won the competition last season but as a coaching group we wanted to push on. A 100 per cent win record was the aspiration. Initially we didn’t target a 4 try bonus point in each game but as the season moved on we reckoned it could just be possible to achieve the perfect league season”
What do you see as the most important factors underpinning this stunning success?
“Apart from a talented group of young and not so young players, the success of the side is down to the dedicated coaching and support network behind the 2nd xv, as well as the wider management, coaching and support across Caldy’s senior sides.”
“There is a team of great people behind the 2nd xv’s success and they deserve all the plaudits for what they have achieved already this season”.
“The dedicated 2nd xv coaching and management group is brilliantly led by Andrew Soutar (“Sooty”) who leads most of the tactical coaching and player development input. Dave Adams, Martyn Smith and I support Sooty under his direction. I focus on the forwards and perhaps what could be described as ‘player encouragement’.
“Amongst all their other jobs Dave and Martyn have the important and sometimes very necessary role of acting as liaison officers between me and Sooty.”
“We are supported on match days by three other top guys in physio Afonse Vera, support official Steve White and lastly and very importantly photographer Barry MacDonald. Barry records every game through his lens, to ensure when we are all too old to do this anymore, we will have some brilliant photos to remind us of these halcyon days”
Apart from winning the league what are the primary goals of the 2nd xv this season?
“At the end of last season, it was clear to Director of Rugby Gareth Davies and Head Coach Matt Cairns that one of the primary reasons the 1st xv had been relegated from National 1 was insufficient strength in depth. For Caldy to be successful in National League rugby we need 35-40 players capable of playing at that level. Our job with the 2nd xv is to provide that strength in depth.
How many players in the 2nd xv are capable of making the jump to National League level?
“That is easy, without exception they all are. A fair number are ready now and pushing very hard for 1st xv selection. Some will need a bit more time but have the real potential to get there. There are a couple like big Louis McGowan and prop Rob Harman who have been there and could still do a job in the 1st xv but probably wouldn’t want it to be any more than an occasional foray”
“Rob and Louis are hugely important mentors and role models for the young players coming through. Both are into their 40’s now, and Rob may even be a touch over 40. They embody the grit, determination and strength of character you need to succeed at top level sport.”
“Rob travels from Anglesey to be involved and everyone in the club respects that level of commitment. On a match day when it is very physical and tough, the presence of these guys makes a huge difference”
What are your biggest challenges in the 2nd xv?
“Managing players’ expectations! The 2nd xv players all know they are good players and we are pushing them so they can step up to the 1st xv. However, the 1st xv are winning all their games as well which is brilliant for Caldy, but it does make it more difficult for the players in the 2nd xv to force their way in to the 1st xv.
All the senior players train together and take part in the technical video and coaching sessions as part of the senior squad. So the 2nd xv players are seen by Matt Cairns and Rich Vasey regularly during the week. It is important that they are ready to take their opportunity when it presents itself.
What happens now the regular league season is over for the 2nd xv?
“Although the regular league season is finished there is the Conference and Cup Competitions to look forward to”
“The top 5 teams in the Premier League play in Conference A on a home and away basis which starts on 8 February. This is obviously a tougher test as we are only playing the best sides in the league.
“This weekend coming on 1st February we have Blackburn at home in the quarter finals of Robinson Brewery Cup. It should be a cracking game.”