Ryland Sharks RLFC has been enjoying some positive results of late and is building for a successful future. Rugby Club Magazine recently caught up with Club Representative Sam Driscoll to find out more about how they have been getting along recently.
He told us, “I first joined the club at under 8’s some 28 years ago and enjoyed a lot of success, winning the league, Warrington Cup and Lancashire Cup in the one season at under 18’s level. Due to serious injury in which I broke my leg and ankle in 27 places and wrist in 9 I was told I could never play rugby again.
I had 10 years away from the sport but the draw of rugby league and the club was too strong and I made my return at the start of this season. Rylands has always been a family club to me with my brother playing here before going on to NW crusaders and my dad coaching here for five years a number of years ago.
Several of the guys in the current squad I played with back in the glory years and it’s that comradery that has both kept players there and brought players back. Plus the current coaching staff of Robert Campbell and Liam Lawton help to keep the focus of the club in touching distance rather than having too high aspirations.”
“My role in the club has only really been defined within the last few months to help fortify the buzz and social aspects to rugby league and the club which I am really enjoying. The most challenging aspect of being the social secretary and events manager is co-ordination of the lads as everyone lives busy lives away from the club and spare time is at a premium. But to be honest the lads enjoy each other’s company and when we get together for an event we show up in force with our families and friends and really get stuck in.”
“Generally the mood is good as we are getting the results and performing well and the lads really gel well together. However, as we are developing, getting the commitment at training can be a challenge which does create some friction between those committed to training and match days and those that just turn up for a run out on a Saturday. Either way, when we take away a win with thirteen men it really does demonstrate what a fantastic club this is and the real quality we have down here.”
“The season started off fairly rocky with some disappointing performances to start, however we really started to turn it on and got some really high scores and show reel performances under our belt. Mid-season losses to the likes of Latchford hit us hard but we bounced back with some real determination and I see a sprint finish ahead for the rest of the season.
2018 is almost a trial season for us to gel as a team and really focus on building our relationships as there are a few new faces (and old ones returning). Rylands has been here many years before us and will continue to prosper once we hang our boots up.”
“Youth at the club is very important, the junior teams are so successful and always have been; Rylands has produced some of the big names in rugby league and still does. The club is seen as one of the best in the North West and the youth are attracted by the professionalism and experience of the coaching staff.
In the past the transition into the senior game has been somewhat of a baptism of fire really when a few players take the decision to step up at 16, 17 and 18 but nowadays 18’s training with the open age and even the younger ages groups having trail tag and grab matches helps bridge that gap between the age groups.”
“The club is absolutely a community club; we focus on getting people through the gates and interested in rugby league as a sport not just the club and we try to put on free events to just get people here watching, playing and supporting the club.
Just recently we had a fun day where we put on a past vs present exhibition match which turned rather tasty and the past even went on to win, showing that you can’t teach experience! But the point of it was everyone’s families being together and catching up over rugby and a pint. It was so good to see and be a part of.”
“The biggest challenges are also the biggest rewards and that is to do with the multimillion pound takeover of the club by Wayne Rooney’s agent Paul Stretford. He has expressed that he wants rugby to continue to be part of the growth of Ryland as a club and I believe he will stick to his word, that said if we fail to continue to grow as a rugby club and invest time and effort it will make it hard for him as a business man to continue to support us.
We want sustainable growth with promotion after promotion, Rob and Liam are keen to ensure we do not run before we can walk and we grow as one.”