Thompson rebuilding Blaydon after mass exodus
MATT THOMPSON says his first priority as new Blaydon head coach is to stop the club sliding further down the leagues.
Blaydon’s 12-year stay at level three came to an end last year when they were relegated into National 2 North and another survival battle beckons unless the former Newcastle hooker can turn things around.
“My first target is to stay in the league,” said Thompson, below, the Falcons’ record holder for Premiership appearances at hooker. “We are just below midtable, but it is quite tight down at the bottom.
“The second one is to keep building on the young talent that we’ve got and add a bit of experience. Take myself and Keith Laughlin out of it and the average age of our squad is only about 20 or 21.
“Thirteen players either left or retired after we were relegated, depriving us of over 1,000 appearances’ worth of experience, so we’ve almost had to rebuild a whole first team, and we’re still in the process of doing that, but it’s not easy with the Falcons, Darlington Mowden Park and Tynedale on the doorstep.
“We’ve got to try and make the club attractive to players by the style of rugby that we play and the coaching they get on a Tuesday and Thursday night.
“Last year we had a huge lumpy pack that tried to bully teams up front. But with the personnel that’s left, we can’t do that anymore. We’re a lot lighter than most teams so we need to run them off the park.”
Thompson, 34, took over from Ally Hogg after the Scotland international was sacked just two months into a reign that produced three wins from the first nine games.
First team captain Laughlin (defence) and Blaydon stalwart, Lee Hogarth (backs/skills), will form the rest of the coaching team.