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A test of ambition

By Leipziger
May 30 2015

Since we need an article, I came up with a few thoughts on next season this morning.

Let us leave aside the rights and wrongs of ringfencing for the moment. We are told that there will be no relegation from the Premiership next season, but for a moment, let us just assume there will be. I think that if there is, then how the Falcons approach the game in 2015/16 will tell us a great deal about Semore Kurdi and Dean Richards’ true ambitions.


For probably 18 of the 22 Premiership matches in 2013/14, the Falcons employed a gameplan that was utterly dire to watch and yielded poor results, culminating in a mutinous atmosphere in the South Stand after our capitulation to Worcester. We ended the season with 22 points.


For almost all of 2014/15, we employed an expansive gameplan that was exciting to watch, gained four losing bonus points, and got us 34 points. Perhaps just as importantly, the supporters back onside and crowds are rising.


Even if we take out the games against the teams that were relegated (Worcester in 2013/14, London Welsh in 2014/15), last season saw an increase of eight league points won.


Some people say that lower-table teams play a boring, defensive game to try to avoid relegation – I would ask “Are you more likely to avoid relegation with 22 points or with 34?”


So actually it’s all baloney: teams at the bottom who play negative rugby do so because their coaches choose to, and if they think that’s the best way to avoid relegation, then they need to take a good look at themselves.


But still, lets run with that idea too. Dean Richards has said that London Welsh dragging along on the bottom of the Premiership has had little influence on the gameplan this past season, and I’m happy to hear it. Now though, if we have relegation next season, there is a chance to prove it.


The Falcons have been back in the Premiership for two years now, which is ample time for consolidation and finding your feet. We need to start kicking on. The past two seasons have shown that we are most likely to do so by playing an attacking game.


So the question is, with Worcester back in the mix and likely to do far better than London Welsh, will the Falcons continue to be ambitious or will they revert to a negative gameplan in the hope of avoiding relegation (remember, we are assuming that there will be relegation)?


Possibility 1) The Falcons go back to the 2013/14 gameplan, and we will know that the club's ambition is limited to simply remaining in the top division. Crowds dwindle again, and last year’s progress is wasted.


As well as exposing a lack of ambition, the latter would expose a lack of intelligence as the Falcons themselves have proven that we will get more points by attacking, and points are all that count – there is no rule that says that the team that plays an attacking game has to be relegated.


Possibility 2) If the Falcons go out and attack, we will know that Kurdi and Richards are serious about getting the Falcons into the upper reaches of the Premiership. Everyone remains onside and we move onwards and upwards, it’s a long and obstacle-filled road, but we will hopefully get there eventually.


I believe that we will continue where we left off against Harlequins two weeks ago. Looking forward to finding out in the autumn!

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A test of ambition (IP Logged)
30/05/2015 10:20
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Re: A test of ambition
markismith50 (IP Logged)
30/05/2015 11:37
Experience has shown the pressure of a relegation battlebrings a natural conservatism in players, whether coached into them or not.

Your logic is fine. Of course we should play attacking rugby. But for teams in a relegation battle it is unavoidable that fear of failure becomes the major driver. It is simply human nature. Seen it year after year from whichever teams are down there.

Re: A test of ambition
Leipziger (IP Logged)
30/05/2015 17:33
You may be right about players getting nervous, Smithy. That's where sports psychologists should be earning their money, while the coaches can create an environment where the players can relax.

I'm reminded of someone who became a director at one of Rupert Murdoch's companies, and Murdoch told him: "I won't fire you for making mistakes, I will fire you for not making decisions".

Re: A test of ambition
markismith50 (IP Logged)
30/05/2015 18:41
All great in theory. Practice, entirely different.

Re: A test of ambition
Kwa444 (IP Logged)
30/05/2015 23:44
To be fair I suspect our style of play has also been changed by our new pitch. All sides tend to play more open rugby on harder faster tracks in late summer and late spring. I think that includes teams at the bottom too. We had a good track all year and played accordingly.

Re: A test of ambition
Dick Godfrey (IP Logged)
01/06/2015 18:37
As I have said so many times, the threat of relegation means that teams are more concerned about avoiding defeat than winning. The solution is to start with a winning mentality and secure. Enough pre-New Year wins to make relegation a distant possibility. I recall manybyears ago Steve Bates saying to enjoy survival you need to win all home games and get one away victory. Should not be impossible with our current squad.

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