Head coach: Peter Wright
Current league position: 9th
The story so far:
It started off so promisingly against Ayr in round one, with a courageous performance for the first 78 minutes putting Peter Wright’s men in a great position to post a morale-boosting early win against the reining champions. Then a loose clearance kick allowed Frazier Climo to drop a goal which broke Boroughmuir hearts. That match served as a metaphor for the team’s season as a whole to date.
They have shown plenty of potential, and caused several teams placed much higher in the league real problems, but have a tendency to shoot themselves in the foot at key moments.
A 28-15 defeat in the return match against Ayr last week saw the Meggetland outfit drop to ninth in the table and if they stay there then they will end up in a relegation play-off against the second top team in National One at the end of the campaign.
Their situation is serious, but not yet hopeless. The clock, however, is ticking.
Coach’s comments –
Rate your season so far:
It’s a tough one because for certain things I would give us more, but, overall, I’d give it three-and-a-half out of ten. That’s only because we’re getting basic things wrong. Our skills and decision making under pressure needs to improve because it isn’t very good. We’re trying to work on it at training by putting guys under pressure, and it is coming, but it is extremely slow.
We had a lot of new players last year and another six or seven new players this year. We’re a young and inexperienced side – I think five of our pack are 20 or younger – so it is about trying to help these guys grow up as rugby players whilst fighting for survival in the Premiership. It’s really tough because there is no breathing space.
Rate your coaching so far:
As a coaching team we’re trying not to be prescriptive but as the season goes on we are probably becoming more and more dictatorial, because it is now about survival and player development has to be a secondary consideration to trying to get a result one game at a time.
You’re trying to be very proactive when you coach – not reactive – but we’re in a situation where we are working on our weaknesses that we think teams are going to target. It is frustrating because we want to be working on our strengths, but because we have so little time it is quite hard to balance that. They are an exceptional bunch of guys and we want to be helping them get better, and I think we are doing that as much as we can, but at the moment it is a fire-fighting exercise.
No matter how long you’ve been coaching, with each group of new players it is a new challenge because your man-management had to be slightly different and you have to alter your game-plan to suit the personnel in the team – so that always keeps you fresh.
We’ve got a lot of young and ambitious guys – we’ve got guys who are in the academy and wanting to go pro, and we’ve got guys who want to make the club international team – so that gives me the spark to carry on.
Most important player:
Chris Laidlaw is our most important player. He’s our captain, our decision-maker and he’s very vocal in the right way both on and off the pitch, so it has been tough having him out [since Round 4] with a knee injury. He’s still been very influential in terms of working with the guys in training and so on, but Jonny Matthews has really stepped up as our on-field captain.
Jonny only arrived at the club during the summer but quickly showed us that he is a good player and a good leader. He’s the one player assured of his place in the team and he’s gelled guys on and off the park because he’s a character.
Chris is not far away now. He’ll be available in the next couple of weeks so hopefully he’ll be back by the time the Melrose game comes around [on 2nd December] and if not that one then the Currie Chieftains game [on 9th December].
Most improved player:
The consistency of [tighthead prop] Dan Winning’s performances, and his all-round game in terms of set-piece and contributing in the loose, has been excellent.
He played Scotland Under-20 last year and is now part of the academy system. He’s a great listener and his knowledge of the game is fantastic. I think he could have been a contender for the club international team this year but, unfortunately, he’s picked up a knee injury and it looks like he could be out for the rest of the season.
He’s a stage three player in the academy so he is really looking to shine this year. My fingers are crossed that the guys at Murrayfield give him the chance to come through it, because I think he will – he’s got a great attitude.
Best performance by your team:
We went into that first game against Ayr with a few guys injured but showed a lot of character and guts, and probably deserved to win. It is kind of synonymous with our season, when you think of Heriot’s, Currie Chieftains, Glasgow Hawks and even Ayr last weekend, they are all games we could have won if we had just made better decisions.
There are good players in there and good rugby, but it just about getting that win.
The inconsistency of rugby in general.
From a Boroughmuir point of view, we’ve played well in patches and then really let ourselves down at key moments – and that is very frustrating because you can see what we are capable of.
The inconsistency of referees is an issue for me, as well. They seem to look at it from their own point of view, and are not really interested in how people like coaches and players and supporters see it. They are trying to push referees through the system as quickly as they can and, in my opinion, a lot of them haven’t earned the right to officiate at Premiership level. Some of them don’t have an empathy for the game and the things that they get wrong are costing teams points … but I could go on about that forever …
Ayr last week because of their physicality. We had 30 minutes of pressure and they just swallowed it up. Because it was such a physical game, we were having to commit more people than we wanted to the breakdown just to win the ball and we couldn’t get it moving. They scored a couple of breakaway tries in the second half but they didn’t play a lot of rugby apart from that – but what they did do was mop up our attack, wave after wave. We had one passage which went for 21 phases right on their line and didn’t score.
Melrose are the best all round team in the league – way better than everyone else – they’ve got some cracking players – but we’ll beat them in a few weeks’ time!
Realistic aim for the second half of the season:
To get out of this relegation battle. It is still in our hands because we have everyone apart from Ayr still to play.
And to get a bit of a run in the cup. We’ve got Gala next weekend, which will be a tough match but if we win that then we are into the last eight – and if we can avoid Melrose I’d back as to do pretty well in that competition.
The two things aren’t exclusive. The cup was a bit of a catalyst for us when we beat Edinburgh Accies last year, so hopefully we can do something similar this year.