What a couple of years it’s been for our Club Partner, Madras RFC.
After a promising start to last season, the club hit dire straits and were struggling for numbers. Unfortunately having been unable to fulfil two fixtures on the bounce, they just didn’t have the resources to play matches.
Thus, they decided to take voluntary relegation and consolidate so they could come back fighting the next season.
It’s proved to be a brave but justified decision!
The club now find themselves in a playoff against Grangemouth 2nd XV, after winning the BT Caledonia Division 3 Midlands North - A real Phoenix from the flames effort.
We caught up with Madras RFC 2nd Row, Dave Bell, to gain an insight into how the season has gone so far and what lies ahead for the club.
You’ve had a really successful season; What’s been the difference this campaign?
I think the team spirit that the boys have developed is great. There’s a real will and determination to win every game, which may sound obvious but it goes a long way especially in team sport.
Our squad as a whole is improving in terms of skill and rugby ability, and now we have a strong team chemistry and camaraderie, which plays a massive part on the pitch. We play for each other.
This season we’ve had to do a lot of coaching ourselves, which isn’t easy because although everyone wants to give input, too many cooks can spoil the broth…However, this again means we just have to act as a tight-knit squad, which is what we’ve been doing.
How Important is Promotion for Madras RFC?
I think on the whole, promotion will be great for the club and it’ll definitely signify a move in the right direction. Where before we may have struggled to fill fixtures, I can’t see that being the case this time.
Another plus is that should we get promoted, it will be to another regional league. It may be a different story if we had the transport burden of a national league, and in some previous cases, we’ve had to travel as far and wide as Orkney, which as you can imagine wasn’t ideal
This kind of situation spawn’s problems such as players being unable to commit to games. Thankfully, turnout should be good if we go up next season. Of course it all rests on our next fixture.
How confident are you of beating Grangemouth?
Last week we had a couple of great training session, with a great turnout. It helped having a guest coach in who offered a different way of putting things across. This was useful in bringing the squad together and there was a really positive vibe about the team.
It’s also a huge plus to think we won the league so we have to take confidence from that and use it to galvanise the lads. Hopefully we’re playing the Grangemouth 2nd XV, however you never know who may turn up on the day. (Little chuckle)
Quietly confident and the boys are in good spirits.
Off the pitch – What’s the dressing room like?
The squad is a really good bunch of lads, and the skipper Graham Smith, is brilliant at bringing the boys together.
Over the years I’ve seen both highs and lows at the club but this squad has a close bond. I’m definitely the grandad of the group and admittedly some of the banter goes over my head, but I’m there to have fun and enjoy my rugby, and with this team both boxes are ticked.
Do You Have Any Slub Specific Social Activities?
We have a really close affiliation with Landsdowne RFC. Every other year we travel down to Landsdowne to watch Scotland Vs Ireland in the 6 Nations. When Scotland are playing at home they return the favour and come and watch the match with us. It’s a really nice tradition.
We also have a vets team which is a good laugh. I remember my first game this season too well because after enjoying a full run out for the vets against a team from Las Vegas, I was then sent to get warmed up for the 1st XV. After two full matches, it’s safe to say I felt it in the legs!
What One Area Needs Attention Within Grassroots Rugby?
I’m joking but I do find it a shame that so many youngsters today are fixated with games consoles, mobile phones and staying indoors. It seems in this day and age, within all sports, there is a challenge to recruit young players and get juniors involved.
We aren’t blessed with a huge hub of youngsters to pitch the sport to but even if we were, we would have to compete with all the other sports who are seeking new talent.
Rugby has to compete and make it something that people want to do…the Scottish National team’s recent success may inspire more people to get involved!