“To put it simply we have the best supporters of any club rugby side in Sydney and probably in Australia,” enthused MMMs club president, David Begg. There is no doubt that NSW and Sydney Rugby Unions recognise this and the ARU has taken notice as it strives to improve the links between community rugby and representative rugby.
A great example is that Waratah and Wallaby Michael Hooper will be at the Village Green on Saturday where it all started for him.
“You can’t underestimate how important the support is to the players,” continued David “This is the time we really want to see everyone come down and make a difference. We haven’t lost a home game during the regular rounds for two seasons and it is no small part due to the support.”
The MMMs dominated Randwick last weekend winning 36-17. MMMs coach, Damien Cummins, when asked about the game plan, always says “play direct”. There was no doubt during the game that this was etched on the players minds. No compromise, tough at the breakdown and earn your right to spread it wide.
“Yeah, it came together well,” said MMMs hooker James “Cecil” Hilterbrand. “We built a lot confidence that allowed us to try new things as well as get the basics right.”
Randwick will be another proposition this weekend as it is a sudden death game for them. The format for the qualifying finals is 1st vs 6th, 2nd vs 5th, 3rd vs 4th. The three winners move to the semis plus the highest ranked losing team.
“To be honest it is no different. We talked about pressure and composure but we have to get out there and play to win,” said a pragmatic James.
MMMs captain and half back, Matt Lucas, returns and his pack organisation skills, defence and link with 5/8th Sam Lane will add another dimension to the plays. Both have Super rugby experience and add in Hilderbrand and massive lock Cadeyrn Neville, you have some excellent experience in key positions.
James came through the colts ranks and started playing grade in 2008. He worked his way through the grades to become a first grade regular. “I loved playing in the grades and remember third grade as being some of my favourite rugby times.” He went on to play for the Force and then the last two seasons for Edinburgh. It is likely he will return to Europe but he still loves, like many players, to come back to Manly to play for his home club.
“It is a different style of rugby over there,” he explained. “It is more physical in many ways.
“I was the social committee organiser which usually meant dressing up as women, my favourite, and going on a pub crawl somewhere. We had a lot of fun,” said James. But he tempered it with; “We had a South African coach, Alan Solomons, who regularly put us through full contact defence sessions during the week.”
The curtain raiser sees minor premiers, second grade, take on West Harbour. “Having come up through the grades, you know how important it is to be in the finals,” said James. Frankly, you don’t get many opportunities in your life to experience this, no matter what grade of rugby you play. Second grade play an exciting, fast style of rugby – get to the ground early to enjoy!
Fourth grade will playing Norths at Forshaw Rugby Park in 3rd vs 4th qualifying final on Sunday.
Go the Mighty Manly Marlins!