Wagstaff expects this campaign to be a successful one for all Hackney sides
- Credit: Archant
In an article from our ‘Engage’ supplement, Hackney head coach Steve Wagstaff previews the London Two North East season
Head coach Steve Wagstaff believes it could be an exciting season for all of Hackney’s teams, and not just their men’s first XV in London Two North West.
Wagstaff became head coach of the Spring Hill club in the summer after joining Hackney last year as head coach of the women’s team.
The new head coach will oversee training for all of the club’s men’s sides this term and will still be involved with the women’s section too.
And from what he has seen in pre-season training, Wagstaff believes all of Hackney’s teams could be pushing for promotion from their respective leagues.
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“Every side this season is looking to really push on this year and challenge for a top-three finish in their respective divisions,” said Wagstaff.
“For the men’s first team, last season was about consolidation after a number of promotions in consecutive years.
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“Both the men’s firsts and the women’s firsts have the quality to challenge for a top-three finish this season.
“The same goes for the seconds and the thirds as well — it could be a really successful year for everyone at the club.
Prior to joining Hackney initially as women’s head coach last summer, Wagstaff had held roles with clubs in the National Leagues.
Wagstaff had previously been involved in the set-ups at Ealing Trailfinders, Westcombe Park and Barking among others.
In taking on the role with Hackney, Wagstaff is working two tiers below the National Leagues.
But the Hackney head coach says he has been thoroughly impressed with how the club has been run since joining last summer. “What I’ve been impressed with most is the way the club is run and there is a real player-led ethos,” he added.
“We make up for a lack of facilities with some real dynamism in areas off the field.
“Everyone is chipping in and performing roles such as admin ones while still playing and having their own jobs, which is really impressive.”
With Hackney looking to enjoy a successful campaign this season, the club will have been hard at work over the summer during pre-season.
Clubs across the country will have been working hard not only on improving the fitness of their players, but also on how they wish to play this season.
And it seems Hackney are no different, with Wagstaff setting out the style of rugby he wants all teams at the Spring Hill club to play in the upcoming campaign.
“We’ve introduced a pattern-based play designed to give our players a chance to respond to an organised defence and react when a chance arises,” he said.
“We’re really emphasising the system that we’re trying to put in place in training and we want the players in all teams to be comfortable on the ball.”
Pre-season will also have given Wagstaff and his coaching team a chance to work with gelling the squads together following some arrivals and departures over the summer.
Like all clubs, players have left and joined the Spring Hill club since the end of the last campaign.
And Wagstaff feels that those who have come to Hackney ahead of the new season have helped the club improve.
“Some older heads have left, but the new players that have come in have added real depth to the squad,” he added.
“There is plenty of competition for places and we’ve added talent in all areas of the pitch.
“Some of the players that have come in have come from clubs at a higher level, but they are looking to play their rugby with a smile.
“Players of that calibre coming in have helped us develop over the summer and we’re pleased with the players we’ve got.
“We’ve seen excellent progress in training in pre-season and the friendly games we’ve had have been good tests.
“We’re happy with the commitment from all the players in all teams and we believe they can challenge for the top three in their divisions.”
For the men’s firsts, another promtoion this year would continue their rapid rise up the ranks, having won three promotions in four seasons.
Hackney’s women’s teams are on the rise too, and the club really does seem to be going places ahead of the new term.
And Wagstaff hopes that upward trajectory continues with some fine performances from all of the Spring Hill’s sides this season.