09:00AM, Friday 08 May 2020
Windsor RFC coach Jack Pattinson hopes he can help glue the club together over the coming seasons, but admits it will take ‘a lot of good people, doing a lot of good things’ to bring that to fruition.
Reflecting on the side’s survival in South West 1 East Pattinson said it was ‘job done’, and, although he admits he’s a little biased on the matter, he believes a top half finish – possibly even a push for promotion – isn’t beyond the Royals when the action resumes after coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
Last season, after contending with a terrible injury list in the opening months of the campaign, the Royals managed to hoist themselves into a position of relative safety.
Steps were also taken to bring the club’s senior, junior and ladies sections together and create a 'universal language for the club'.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to get back by July or August, but if we’re not starting again until December or January, that’s a big void in how the season is going to look,” said Pattinson. “Logistically there’s a lot to organise, but, as much as people need sport – and I’m definitely one of those people – none of it is more important than people’s health. Some people are talking about it being years, and saying we’re not going to have contact sport until there’s a vaccine and I’m thinking hey?
“But these are things we can’t control. My number one priority last season was looking after the ones and twos and going into year two it’s going to be about how we can influence the wider club. We’re trying to create a universal language for the Dames, the Juniors, that we can use throughout all sections of the club. I think this will really help glue the club together.
“Before I came it was kind of like the seniors were over there, the Dames over here and the juniors over here. It was just a little bit disjointed. It’s definitely come together a bit over the last year but there’s still a long way to go. We can glue the whole club together further. After that we can look to engage more in the local community, because there’s a lot of cool stuff going on. But it’s going to take a lot of good people doing a lot of good things for this to happen.”
Windsor were in real danger of being relegated when the teams broke up for Christmas, however, their form really picked up in the new year and they picked up several impressive scalps on the way. On the decision taken by the RFU to cancel the league season following the arrival of coronavirus and settle positions based on a ‘best playing formula’, Pattinson added: “It’s probably easier for me to say this, because we weren’t on the receiving end of being relegated by a formula. But I actually think it was brilliant the RFU came out right away and provided clarity. If it had still been ongoing, like the Premier League in football, with everyone wanting to know what’s going to happen, it’s difficult. At least we know where we’re at and can start thinking about next season.
“I don’t really agree with the formula because I think it only gave us another seven points from our four remaining matches, but we’d done enough to ensure we were good enough to stay up. Our form post Christmas was a fair reflection of where we were at. No one is going to remember the season in terms of where we finished, it was all about staying up and in that sense it was job done.”
Planning for the future is difficult in the current circumstances, but Pattinson is confident he can keep the core of the current squad together.
He also hopes to create the ‘greatest ever Windsor side’ in a relatively short timescale so is certainly not putting a limit on their ambitions next season.
“When we get that restart, hopefully we’ll be better prepared because we’ve had this time to reflect on last season and get feedback from the players which has been useful,” he said. “But we don’t really know what we’re going into. It’s going to be strange.
“We’ll always try to recruit but we’re in an area where it’s not always easy bringing players in from London. The closest university link is Royal Holloway, plus we’ve got neighbours like Maidenhead and Bracknell who will throw a bit of money players' way, some beer money perhaps, which makes it a bit more competitive to recruit.
“We also want to retain players but there’s usually a turnover of players. Lads getting new jobs or moving home. There’s always a few who won’t be involved next year, but, by and large, you want to keep the group together and build on that really. Hopefully we’ll have a few less injuries and can get off to a better start. It’s easy for me to say that I believe we can finish in the top half, because I’ve got a massive bias. But for me, I’m probably only going to be at the club for a few years. For me the main goal is to try and create the greatest Windsor team there’s ever been. So we can achieve that next season or the season after that. That’s got to be the goal. We want to do something that matters.”
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