03:00PM, Monday 25 October 2021
Former boxer Mike Tyson once said that ‘everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth’, and that’s how Maidenhead RFC head coach David Mobbs-Smith must feel right now as he tries to help the team adjust to life in the London & South East Premier Division.
Maids haven’t taken to their sideways switch from the South West league at all well, losing six of their first seven matches, but the coaching team are making changes to their defensive shape and formation in a bid to get a better handle on teams in this league.
After Saturday’s 45-13 defeat to Westcombe Park the plan is to gradually improve, eke out a few wins between now and Christmas and use the hard lessons they’ve been getting in the last few weeks as a positive for the second half of the campaign.
That’s the plan; whether they’ll be able to do it remains open to debate.
This Saturday they have, on paper, an excellent chance to collect their second win of the season when bottom of the table CS Stags 1863 visit Braywick Park, but Mobbs-Smith accepts the pressure will be huge for both teams.
“It will be interesting to see how both teams respond,” he said. “Because 100 per cent, both teams will be looking to win.
“It’s a big occasion for them and an opportunity for them to claim a victory.
“But if we can get a few wins on the board between now and Christmas then you’re talking about the season very differently. And we’ll have had the experience of what we’ve been through at the start of the season and the players should reap some benefits from that.
“That’s the ambition, whether we can achieve it (I don’t know) because there are teams in this league that will be trying desperately hard to stop that from happening.
“You can plan as much as you like but your opponents will be doing everything they can to ensure that doesn’t happen.”
Saturday’s visitors, CS Stags, arrive at Braywick with a minus three points total, after failing to fulfil their second fixture of the season at Sutton & Epsom. But there were signs of improvement in their narrow 16-15 home defeat by Tring at the weekend and Mobbs-Smith believes they have the style of rugby to cause Maids many problems.
Maids will use the game to further implement changes to the defensive shape and structure, in a bid to counter teams breaking tackles and scoring from broken play, often from deep in their own half.
“They had points deducted for failing to play a fixture and I don’t know the reasons for that,” said Mobbs-Smith. “But they play in a similar style to the other sides we’ve faced and had a very good game against Tring on Saturday, a match they lost narrowly by one point, so they’ll be looking at this game as one they can potentially win.
“We have to find a way of slowing down the pace of the game because we’re being put on the back foot.
“Our players are proficient tacklers it’s just the speed the game is being played at. We’re just getting there a fraction later than we would be doing if we were playing in the South West and so we’re just a little bit more vulnerable to runners and it’s about trying to find a way of stopping them from playing so quickly.”
He added: “You don’t want to make too many adjustments. We’re here because of a lot of the good things we’ve done, but now we’ve got to make it work in a slightly different environment.
“We haven’t suddenly become a bad team or club and they’re not bad players.
“We’ve just got to adjust to this league and learn from the flamboyant way that they play and come at you from all over the park. This weekend’s team that we’re playing against are no different. They play quite like the rest of the teams.”
There will be displays at Windsor Racecourse and Legoland, local fireworks in Burnham and Twyford and smaller displays at schools in the Royal Borough.