With pre-season now complete, Sedgley Park’s new head coach Matt Bebbington has revealed that he and the club cannot get too far ahead of themselves as they prepare for another season in National Two North.
The current North of England U20s coach was announced as Dean Schofield’s predecessor back in March and with the new campaign on the horizon, he is excited to be back coaching at this level and believes that there is enough talent already at the club to help them reach their goals for this term.
Speaking to the club website for the first time as Sedge head coach, he said: “The club have a great set-up here and it is exciting to be part of it. They have a good support team too and of course, a quality group of players to work with. It’s a club that can continue to grow.
“They have been close to breaking back into National One over the last couple of seasons so there is potential to do that. They were at that level three or four years ago and it is certainly a place where the players want to be, but my job is to make sure that the team get the processes right to try and win as many games as possible.”
With Sedge having finished fourth last season after another promising campaign, Bebbington has already added a few new faces to the squad including Nathan Ruston from National Two North champions Caldy and Will Lees from Preston Grasshoppers, but the former Stockport coach has already been impressed at what he has at his disposal.
“The transition has been pretty good because not many players have left so we are quite a settled squad,” he revealed when asked about the changes he has implemented at the club so far.
“It wasn’t in any of my thoughts to go out and get as many signings as possible because we have some great lads and good people in here already so it was just about adding a bit more strength in key positions.”
Bebbington began playing rugby when he was 16 for Widnes RUFC and then began coaching at Wilmslow High School where he was in charge of a very successful senior rugby programme. Added to that, Bebbington guided Stockport to National Two North in 2013/14 and he believes that since his spell at this level two years ago, the league has become much stronger.
“The standard of competition has changed drastically, but in a good way,” Bebbington added. “You look through the fixture list and every game seems as though it will be a battle to get on the right side of the result.”
Sedgley Park’s first battle of the 2017/18 campaign will be away to Sheffield Tigers on September 2nd before hosting last year’s play-off finalists Sale FC. Bebbington stated that preparations for the start of the new season are coming along nicely with him trying to implement is attractive style of rugby on the squad, but the first five fixtures of the new campaign are firmly in the forefront of his mind.
He added: “The lads seem to be picking up things pretty quickly and we are getting used to each other’s little habits and building partnerships.
“We are also doing bits of analysis throughout pre-season rather than just after the first game or after the first pre-season game. We are filming training just so we can tweak and improve after every training session rather than just when you get to the games because you don’t get any objective feedback.
“We are also trying to keep the sessions at a high tempo and not waste time. The way we want to play is all about ambition, and we want to ‘strike to score’ so our approach is pretty demanding. It’s about replicating match conditions so we are working under a bit of fatigue and putting our skills under pressure.
“In terms of the 1st XV, you look at our first five fixtures and they are against sides that we either lost to or drew to last year in the corresponding game. I think we lost four of those five matches and the lads are aware of that already. We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves because we have to focus on pre-season first before the start of the league campaign.”