By Ben Gilby Press Officer London Cornish RFC
After the finishing the previous season on the crest of a wave, London Cornish are aiming to build on this with more success in 2014/15. First team head coach Tom Sincock has been speaking to club press officer Ben Gilby about his views ahead of the new league season in London Two South-West.
Sincock, the former Redruth and Cornwall county player, has no doubts whatsoever as to the reasons behind last season’s success story which saw the club win ten of their last twelve matches, securing ten bonus points in the process to finish in their highest ever league position of third: “After the relegation battle we faced in the previous season there was a lot of soul searching amongst the players. I think that drove a lot of individuals to improve their overall commitment to the club. This was key for us to improve our game and ensure continuity in selection. The boys will tell you we worked very hard at our fitness during pre-season and in season and this really paid off later in the campaign. Finally, thanks to a great recruitment drive by the coaches and players, we added some very talented individuals to our squad, the likes of Harry Somers, Ben Devonport, Cieran Acford, Andy Eustace, Luke Bridges, Jamie Macdonald, Rob Healey, Phil Dale, Craig Chatley, Joe Skinnard and Rich Skinnard all added a huge amount to our game.”
As Sincock alludes to, the travails of 2012/13, when Cornish needed to secure four try bonus point wins in their last two games to avoid relegation, changed so many elements of the club: “We have gone from having two coaches to five, with a dedicated 2nd team coach. We are training twice a week as opposed to once which has had an immediate impact. There has been a massive change in player personnel, which could always cause problems, but luckily the boys have gelled well as a team on and off the pitch. Yes there are things that need to be changed, such as training on a full sized pitch but these are things that can be dealt with in time and not rushed as our location is key to us attracting players to the club.” Another aim for the club this season will be to have more players available more often; “We need our 1st team squad of 25 to 30 players available for every game. That is it really, we have the players to do very well in this league, we just need them on the pitch every Saturday to do the job.”
A strong period of pre-season training is always vital to ensure any team hits the ground running. “It went really well this year with excellent numbers,” Sincock states. “I think the spectators will enjoy a very fast game of rugby this season. Coach Marc Sweeney has just completed an elite athletics course, funded by the club, and has started to introduce some very cutting edge techniques. There were noises coming from the players I have never heard before during the last session!” I next asked Tom about player movement during the close season. “There have been a few new players join and I’m actively looking at a couple of new players but will only invite those players who are going to be fully committed to club and whose character and personality fits. We have a young team and we’re still developing. If we can keep this squad together for another 3 or 4 seasons who knows where could be.”
This aura of positivity which seems to be surrounding the club is reflected in Sincock’s clear aims for the coming season: “I want us to improve on last season’s final position (third), and for the team to play a style of rugby that the players and spectators will enjoy. As for who I expect to be challenging at the top of the table this time round, the league is always very open. I think our old friends Tottonians and maybe the new boys Farnham will be up there. I’d like to think we will challenge too, but we shall see.”
Finally, I asked Tom what he believes makes London Cornish such a great club to be connected with -“Being an amateur club the players play for the love of the game, the shirt and for each other – things that are very rare in today’s game