Saturday, 4 January 2014
Day 4 - Amazing Saints
My rugby team is Northampton Saints, coached by Jim Mallinder. I don't support many successful teams. Luton Town are doing well this season but the trail of ignominious rubbish they have served up for the last 20 years as they have dropped like a stone has been a bit pathetic.
Last year Northampton were good. They came fourth in the table and qualified for the end of season play-offs. They then caused a surprise upset in the semi-final before being plucky losers in the final (despite playing with 14 men for a long time). The problem was that they did not beat many, of any, of the other top 4 teams during the season and they were flat track bullies, beating up teams that were weaker than them.
This season has been different. The have beaten Harlequins twice, 13-6 and 23-9, they have beaten Saracens 41-20, they have beaten Bath 43-25 and drew with Leicester 19 all at Welford Road. At the moment they have lost one game (a little controversially) and are in a top two who are clear of the rest.
Part of this resurgence is down to attracting better players. George North is an amazing player who can convert half situations from nothing but it is also down to better coaching. The introduction of Alex King as backs coach has added a layer of unpredictability to the way they attack and there have been marked improvements in other players such as Courtney Lawes. I also like they way that have used the youth team well so that players like Ethan and Alex Waller and Jamie Elliott have come through the Academy and A side (the Wanderers") giving players from Bedford and Kettering a chance to get into the top league in a way that football would love to emulate.
I also like the way that the club dealt with the George North situation. Yes George, you can have an extra week to earn money for Wales that they can put into funding clubs you will be playing in the Heineken Cup against and we will pay the fine that we knew was coming,
What every happens I enjoyed watching you play today (recorded from yesterday so it is today's amazing thing).