It’s a chance of a life­time say pro­moted Caldy

The Rugby Paper - - Feature - ■ By JON NEWCOMBE

AF­TER nine con­sec­u­tive sea­sons at level four, Caldy head coach Si­mon Ver­bickas ad­mits the club is step­ping into the un­known next sea­son af­ter win­ning pro­mo­tion to Na­tional One.

A dra­matic 28-26 come­back against pro­mo­tion ri­vals Sale saw them clinch the ti­tle with two week­ends to spare last Satur­day and Ver­bickas is hun­gry for a chance against some big names of English rugby.

The for­mer Lithua­nian in­ter­na­tional, 41, said: “It is go­ing to be a huge step into the un­known but, hope­fully, it’ll be a good ad­ven­ture for ev­ery­one in­volved.

“For me per­son­ally and some of the play­ers this is a life­time’s op­por­tu­nity. To play against Coven­try and Ross­lyn Park, the big­ger and older teams that have been around for gen­er­a­tions, is some­thing we’re mas­sively look­ing for­ward to.

“What I’ve said to the lads is that no mat­ter how se­ri­ously we take it, the big thing is we en­joy next year. If we do that, we’ll get the best out of ev­ery­one. How we pre­pare and train will be key be­cause there is a gap be­tween Na­tional One and Two in terms of pace, fit­ness, strength and abil­ity.

“We’ve got the play­ers to do it, the only dif­fer­ence is that we don’t have as many play­ers with the ex­pe­ri­ence of that level.”

Ver­bickas ad­mits you could not have writ­ten the script for Satur­day’s top-ofthe-ta­ble clash.

“To beat Sale in front our big­gest crowd for years af­ter go­ing in at half-time 17 points down, was the stuff of Hol­ly­wood. Our in­ter­nal be­lief shone through.”

Ver­bickas, an RFU com­mu­nity coach who played for Or­rell and Manch­ester in the sec­ond tier of English rugby, is a firm be­liever that the first team’s suc­cess be­longs to the whole club.

“If you dis­as­so­ci­ate your­self from the rest of the club you be­come a Satur­day only team. The day af­ter the lads cel­e­brated our win, they were down watch­ing and cheer­ing on the colts.”

Caldy have shown steady pro­gres­sion since Ver­bickas came on board in 2014, fin­ish­ing sixth and fifth in his first two sea­sons in charge be­fore last week­end’s crown­ing glory.

“Ev­ery­one be­fore me laid great foun­da­tions with the mini and ju­nior sec­tion. We can now start call­ing upon the 18 and 19-year-olds from the club rather than look­ing out­side.

“Andy Kyriacou has added loads to the coach­ing side and we’ve got a great DoR in Gareth Davies, while the back-up team has played a mas­sive part.

“For me this was a cul­mi­na­tion of a three-year plan. To take us to the next level is the per­fect sce­nario. Hope­fully the next two years will be just as good.”

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