“We didn’t adapt and change things based on how the game was going.”
Andy Long (Director of Rugby BSRFC)
BISHOP’S Stortford turned their home form around on Saturday with a close win over local rivals Old Albanians.
First XV flanker Dan Elsom sat down with the club’s Director of Rugby, Andy Long, to discuss some of the strong performers in Saturday’s victory.
DE: Saturday looked like quite a frustrating fixture for the Blues, who struggled to gain momentum particularly in the first half. What happened in that first 40 minutes?
AL: We didn’t stick to the script. We went off some of our structure and we allowed them to get in the game with a frustrating mentality and pressure at the breakdown. We were predictable in how we attacked, which allowed them to bring the referee into play. We just couldn’t get any momentum.
In the second half, we didn’t concede and we managed to score points, so it was pleasing to see that we can learn to win games like that.
But good teams don’t wait until half time, they adapt quickly on the field. We didn’t do that on the weekend. We didn’t adapt and change things based on how the game was going.
DE: James Apperley produced his second Man of the Match performance on Saturday. He really seems to have settled in to a comfortable role in the first team after his breakout year last season.
AL: James has been magnificent in what he has done for the last 18 months. He has developed and grown virtually with every performance. What I have been really impressed with has been his physicality; it has been what we required from a second row or blindside flanker. He’s got this natural athletic ability and unfortunately at the weekend we weren’t able to see it as much in the wider channels because of the way we played. He has put in some really good performances, which have really just cemented him into the squad. We look at a game in terms of positive contributions, and James really has that ability to make plays that can change the game.
Oli Jones is another guy that has had a really good start to the season, taking his chances and making a solid impact off the bench. Someone like that, he is the future of the club.
DE: Tom McCrone was another guy that really brought a physical presence to the pitch on Saturday. He has been great as an impact player already this season.
AL: His physicality has improved massively this season, particularly in his defence. He is a fine player and technically a very good scrummager – his performances this season have been great for us.
There’s great competition in the squad at the moment, and its competition that we need. At this point in the season, there are some tired bodies and we really need to use all of the squad for each game.
DE: Blackheath sit just four points ahead on the table. How important is the upcoming match against them and the next few weeks?
AL: Blackheath like to play and have some good players, but they lost at the weekend, so it’s a good opportunity for us. The next two weeks are really crucial. If we can get a few wins before the November break then we will be in a really strong position. Blackheath put sides to the sword; they are capable of scoring points and we know that. So our defence is going that have to be really strong, and generally our defence away from home has been. We just really need to make sure we maintain our physicality and intensity for 80 minutes. If we can do that then we have a really good chance of winning.
DE: Tell us a bit about your upcoming climb of Mount Kilimanjaro. Having completed an Ultra Marathon and recently the Stortford 30, its not the first time you’ve tried your hand at endurance sports. What made you want to take up such a demanding past time after retiring from professional rugby?
AL: When I finished playing rugby I found it really hard to get motivated to do anything in the gym for a long time. I was always a good trainer when I was playing, but I found it really hard to be disciplined to train myself once I retired. It took something crazy like signing up for an Ultra Marathon last July to kick me into having a bit of a passion for long distance running and seeing what my body could do.
There isn’t much similarity in terms of the training, but when it comes to the mindset I think there are a lot of similarities there. Mentally it’s very tough, in terms of pushing you on when you are tired. It’s good to have a challenge like that and to be able to do something that pushes you.
Kilimanjaro is just something that I felt would be a really good personal challenge and something quite exciting, so I’m looking forward to the enormity of it.
Bishop's Stortford head to Blackheath this Saturday, kicking off at 2pm.
Updated 20:21 - 11 Nov 2017 by Perry Oliver