In the first of a series of reminisces from the 2016 Minety Rugby Club Dinner, we summarise Coach Andy Ward’s speech to the assembled throng.
Andy started by summing up the 1st XV’s 2015-2016 season; a third place league finish and winners of the Dorset and Wilts Vase. Minety only lost once at Supermarine last season and that was to Gosford All Blacks in the regional championships. That was a terrific performance from all the team.
Yet it all started so differently. Despite all of the pre season warm up matches and coaching sessions, where the importance of winning lineouts and scrums was emphasised, Minety found themselves 30 points down at half time against Combe Down. Set pieces were lost and the team looked to be on for a real hiding. But the second half saw a complete turnaround. The final score was 41-22 and the pride and passion that marked out so much of the year’s play was in evidence.
That pride and passion was still there in the last match of the season when Minety inflicted Combe Down’s second, and heaviest, defeat of the season; it was a great acheivement.
At a players’ meeting before Christmas, with the club comfortably in second place and playing superb rugby, the question of promotion to Southern Counties was discussed. The majority of players voted to “go for it”; it was a great response to a difficult question. And how did the team respond on the pitch? We lost four on the bounce so those who voted to maintain the status quo were right.
But there were times in the season when it could all have been so different. A controversial decision late on in the game at Melksham saw Minety lose 9-6. We turned up at Corsham on a very wet day. There were some puddles on the pitch, granted, but we were ready to play. We had a strong team and were ready for them. The match was postponed. When it was replayed they were on a wonderful home run and we were weakened. We were hammered by 60 points.
Our discipline was poor at the start of the season – too much talking back to the referees and a sending off saw us on the wrong side of some officials. But we got that sorted out by the middle of the season.
Training was great. We had good attendances and I’m so proud of all the lads who turned out every Tuesday night in the cold and wet to train and watch the analysis films of the previous week’s matches.
Minety are a great club and they have an outstanding captain in Wallace. When he wasn’t available then Will North stepped in and did a great job as captain.
The coach thanked Chairman Dave Peirce for all that he has done for the club this season and went on to thank: Cliff Garland; Steve Jackman and the physio team; Andy and the bar team; JB for his work on the pitches and around the club; Tom McAllister for marking out the pitch lines; and Graham Cooke for the films and press work. He also mentioned Rob Bugden, who made such a contribution to the club before Christmas and whose injuries after Christmas affected us all.
Thanks also to the sponsors, who give so much yet receive so little. To Anthony Windle goes the club’s thanks. Thanks also to Brett and the others who have helped keep the club afloat through their generosity.
Astonishingly, the 1st XV used no fewer than 53 players this season. 24 games were played with Wallace turning out on 22 occasions. Jack Ward made 20 appearances, Ben Collins 19 and Steve Brown, Tom Claxton, Ben Langridge, Luke Radcliffe and Ash Windle with 17.
Andy went on to thank all of the support players who stepped in, often at the last minute, when the 1st XV were short and acknowledged the role that the 2nd XV played in supporting the 1st XV.
Jack Ward scored 58 points, Matt Roberts 55 (all tries) but Garin Garland was the top points scorer with a massive 168 points.
Player of the season. Contenders: Harry Neale, Ash Windle, Jack Ward, Max Sparrow and Steve Brown. Winner: Steve Brown. Steve’s award was presented to Steve Jackman in Steve’s absence.
Young Player of the Season. Contenders: Tom McAllister and Garin Garland. Winner: Garin Garland for his 168 points and for dashing back from university to play in so many matches.
Most Improved Player of the Year. Contenders: Dave Cooke, Nick Britten and Tom Claxton. Winner, for his whole hearted efforts, even when injured, and for the pride and passion that he shows everytime he pulls on a club shirt, Tom Claxton.
Special Award for Indoor Fitness: Winner Matt Roberts.
Players’ Player of the Year: Winner Jack Ward
Steve Jackman with Steve Brown’s Player of Season award
Young Player of the Year, Garin Garland with his award
Tom Claxton with his award for the most improved player
Jack Ward with his award for the Players’ Player of the Year