A desperate defensive effort in the dying minutes saw Haileybury College claim their first win of the season, holding off a galant Scotch College last Saturday.
Taking an unorthodox approach to schoolboys rugby, Haileybury Head Coach Aidan Ryan has invited his senior players into weekly planning sessions in an effort to empower his playing group.
We caught up with the highly rated coach to see how his methodologies are translating onto the field.
Rugby Victoria (RV): After Saturday's result against Scotch, how's the mood in the camp? What was most pleasing about the performance for you?
Aidean Ryan (AR): The squad are obviously very happy with a hard fought victory versus a school such as Scotch. A school with an incredibly rich history, a strong coaching staff and excellent players, to be able to compete at the top table against such a school was very pleasing.
Coming off the back of a difficult game down in Geelong, we had made a focused effort on fighting for the 50:50 ball, which was a clear improvement on Saturday versus Scotch.
We also spoke about the perseverance to grind out a win and not let a team get away from us. On Saturday, we exchanged the lead countless times with Scotch, kicking a long range kick to put us three ahead and holding off a last ditch attack was most pleasing for me as a coach.
RV: What's pleased you most about the development of your squad this off season?
AR: We are fortunate to be an APS with school with a strong emphasis on school sport, but this comes with its challenges in forming a pre-season. With most of our squad involved in 1st Cricket, Rowing, Touch and other sports, we were limited to just five weeks of pre-season.
But with the support of our High Performance Coordinator Michael Odachowski and our close working relationship with Alasdair Aikman (Head of Rowing) we were able to ensure that our players were physically ready for the 2022 VSRU 1st Division season.
I am most pleased about the development of players new to the game, and how with the support of Peter Lewis we’ve been able to bring these young athletes up to speed and install a game plan that plays to their strengths and weaknesses.
RV: Tell us about the leaders in your squad who are driving the standards. Who are they and how have you seen them develop?
AR: Liam Doyle (Capt.) along with Will Toohey, Scott Manson and Nic Tindall make up our Senior Player Group, but we have leaders throughout the squad which makes my job very easy.
Often these players take up most of the coaching duties on a Tuesday and Thursday, deliver feedback and workons for the week ahead.
All our planning is done in conjunction with the Senior Player Group, which has allowed for a greater sense of ownership and responsibility in the team.
RV: Heading into Saturday's game against Melbourne Grammar, where do you want to see improvement this week?
AR: We have a constant list of improvements that we feel we need to work on each week, essentially these always fall to three main areas; attack, defence and set piece.
Melbourne Grammar School will bring a lot of pedigree to the Orange Oval on Saturday morning, impeccably well coached by Ellis, we will need to be at our very best to be competitive.
RV: Which player in this year's group has the potential to be the next Pro rugby player? Why?
AR: Liam Doyle has as much potential as any player I have seen to be an excellent loose-head prop; physicality, athleticism, and game awareness.
John Brady at tight-head prop, new to the game in 2022 has the potential to be one of those rare finds in rugby. The player we see on TV in years to come and commentators talk about him only starting out in rugby at the age of 17.
Will Toohey as a member of the Rebels Junior Academy is already on the pathway to Professional Rugby and I cannot wait to see where his career goes.
Haileybury face Melbourne Grammar at Orange Oval this Saturday at 11:30am