As told by Raptors Head Coach, David Williams
Coaches Blog, Glendale Rugby Date 9.18.18, the location – Glendale Rugby’s Team Meeting Room
As any person who has played or coached sports knows, it is very easy to stay positive while you are on top. It’s another thing completely to keep a team together – coaches and players alike – while you are losing. That’s what I am working on now, on the heels of Sunday’s match.
This last match we played against the Ontario Arrows in York Lions Stadium in Toronto proved a very tough one on our team. This was our third-straight loss and although our resolve to win the MLR Championship in 2019 is as strong as ever, we have definitely acknowledged the fact that the competition is getting better and we are still seeing some holes in pivotal positions that need to be filled.
As I mentioned after our last match against the Collegiate All-Americans, we are using this fall season, and the number of exhibition games we are slotted to play from August to November, as an opportunity to test new players and see how they integrate into our system. We knew this would be a hard test for our team as the Ontario side loaded their All-Canada squad with many Canadian internationals and Sevens internationals in the hopes of entering their first season in the MLR with some great momentum. But, for us, we aren’t as concerned with momentum, as we are seeing player development and continued improvements in our individuals, units and the team, as a whole. In this off-season, we have been pinpointing where our holes are and filling those with the right players for our club. In addition, we’ve been up-skilling some of our younger/newer players. For instance, we brought in a few new forwards for this match, as we knew this was an area that needed additional depth.
Even though losing can sometimes become quite disheartening, we also know we can’t be weighed down by our win/loss record in the off-season, we have to keep our eyes set on the prize – which for us is winning an MLR Championship. We keep reminding ourselves that the hard work we put in now will ultimately produce the fruit we need. As a coach, I also keep reiterating to our players to just trust the system we have in place. We know we are still struggling a bit with our set-pieces and our backs lacked the clinical edge in the wide channels as we created opportunities with our attack and shape, but I’m confident that this will improve as we start trusting our newer players to fill the roles we’ve laid out for them. We have a lot of young talent on this team and I was really proud to see how they have stepped up to this level. And, as Glendale’s recent crossover camp proved, we are always looking to bring new talent in to add to our player pool.